Jera’s Jamboree review: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy 2) by Deborah Harkness

Hardcover: 592 pages

Publisher: Headline  (10 July 2012)

ISBN-10: 0755384733

ISBN-13: 978-0755384730


Historian Diana Bishop, descended from a line of powerful witches, and long-lived vampire Matthew Clairmont have broken the laws dividing creatures. When Diana discovered a significant alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, she sparked a struggle in which she became bound to Matthew. Now the fragile coexistence of witches, daemons, vampires and humans is dangerously threatened.
Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realise that the past may not provide a haven. Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy for Queen Elizabeth, the vampire falls back in with a group of radicals known as the School of Night. Many are unruly daemons, the creative minds of the age, including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot.

Together Matthew and Diana scour Tudor London for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782, and search for the witch who will teach Diana how to control her remarkable powers… 

Fall under the spell of Diana and Matthew once more in this stunning, richly imagined, epic tale.


The first book in the trilogy, A Discovery of Witches, was one of my top 10 fiction reads for 2011.  Purely because I loved it so much I was a bit ambivalent when Shadow of Night came round on my reading schedule.  Would it live up to my expectations?

Chapter One carries on exactly where we left off with Diana and Matthew.  We knew they had timewalked but didn’t know if they’d reached their destination (what a cliffhanger!).  Arriving safely in Matthew’s home, the Old Lodge, the first person they meet in 16th century Oxford is Christopher Marlowe (Kit) quickly followed by the rest of the group of men from The School of Night.  The reader quickly becomes immersed while Diana is adjusting to the fashions and expectations of 16th century England.

After the timewalking, Diana’s powers have undergone another change.  Their attempts to find someone to train Diana do not turn out well (they are forced to flee!) but they eventually find a ‘constituency’ of witches in London who can tell Diana what her powers are and begin her training on how to use them.  I really enjoyed this thread of the story.  Some of the scenes are amazing!

Matthew is a prominent figure in society.  The De Clairmont family are well known and his father Phillipe holds a lot of power.  It is not long before Phillipe summons them to the family chateaux in France.  Traumatic for Matthew, it is here that Diana is tested and Matthew finally finds peace.

Once again they are forced to leave … and this time go to Elizabethan London!  Queen Elizabeth sends them to Prague to bring back her alchemist but they also want to go there because they think the manuscript, Ashmole 782, is there.

The characters we meet through the 16th century are brilliantly portrayed.  There are characters who cause immense tension (Father Hubbard) and also those who bring heartache (when they have to leave to go back to their own time).  Prominent members of history are key figures.  The historical aspect is very well researched.  You really do feel as if you’re living through the 16th century.  There are a couple of characters that appear (who are important to Diana) and I loved the way they were part of the whole.

Diana’s character really grows in strength throughout Shadow of Night.  We also get to see a different Matthew as he takes on his 16th century persona.  Their love for each other changes and grows and is also a major thread in the story.  It is still very deep and intense.

At relevant times we dip back into the present with something from the 16th century as the trigger.  Diana and Matthew spend a lot of time in the past and therefore some of their actions effect the present.  This gave everyone in the present clues.  There is a very poignant moment attached to one of these items. I thought this added yet another exciting aspect to the story.

Ashmole 782 wasn’t quite what I expected it to be!  DNA once again plays an important part in the story – I can’t say why – no spoilers!

The ending … Diana still has something to discover and there is intrigue waiting to be discovered …

I was determined to savour every page but the story held me in its grip … there is just so much to pull you in I just couldn’t help turning the pages as fast as I could.  I feel bereft now I’ve finished!

Shadow of Night can be read alone as the back-story is revealed at relevant times.  However, I do highly recommend you read A Discovery of Witches first – there is so much you would be missing.

No surprises at my rating:

Buy it but be loathe to share your copy … it’s a keeper!

I would like to thank Caitlin Raynor from Headline  for providing an uncorrected proof copy in exchange for an honest review.

A Discovery of Witches is available to purchase:

Amazon paperback £4.31

Amazon Kindle £4.99

The Book Depository £5.98

And all bookstores

Shadow of Night is available to pre-order:

Amazon hardback £8.83

Amazon Kindle £8.99

The Book Depository hardback £12.74


Photo courtesy of publishers

I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and have lived in western Massachusetts, the Chicago area, Northern California, upstate New York, and Southern California. In other words, I’ve lived in three out of five time zones in the US! I’ve also lived in the United Kingdom in the cities of Oxford and London.

For the past twenty-eight years I’ve been a student and scholar of history, and received degrees from Mount Holyoke College, Northwestern University, and the University of California at Davis. During that time I researched the history of magic and science in Europe, especially during the period from 1500 to 1700. The libraries I’ve worked in include Oxford’s Bodleian Library, the All Souls College Library at Oxford, the British Library, London’s Guildhall Library, the Henry E. Huntington Library, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the Newberry Library—proving that I know my way around a card catalogue or the computerized equivalent. These experiences have given me a deep and abiding love of libraries and a deep respect for librarians. Currently, I teach European history and the history of science at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

My previous books include two works of non-fiction: John Dee’s Conversations with Angels: Cabala, Alchemy, and the End of Nature (Cambridge University Press, 1999) and The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution (Yale University Press, 2007). It has been my privilege to receive fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the National Humanities Center. And I was honored to receive accolades for my historical work from the History of Science Society, the North American Conference on British Studies, and the Longman’s/History Today Prize Committee.

In 2006, I took up my keyboard and entered the world of blogging and Twitter. My wine blog, Good Wine Under $20, is an online record of my search for the best, most affordable wines. These efforts have been applauded by the American Wine Blog Awards, Saveur.comWine & Spirits magazine, and Food & Winemagazine. My wine writing has also appeared on the website Serious Eats and inWine & Spirits magazine.

My career in fiction began in September 2008 when I began to wonder “if there really are vampires, what do they do for a living?” A Discovery of Witches is the unexpected answer to that question. The book debuted at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, and was also a bestseller in the UK, France, and Germany. Thirty-eight foreign editions and translations will be published. The story of Diana and Matthew will continue in the second and third books of the All Souls Trilogy.

* Exciting News * Warner Brothers Pictures has secured the film rights to the All Souls Trilogy.  Work is currently underway to adapt the first book, A Discovery of Witches, for the screen.  Denise DiNovi and Alison Greenspan are producing the film.  Playwright David Auburn, who has received both a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award, has been hired to write the screenplay. (Taken from the author’s website.)

Find our more about Deborah Harkness on her website.  You can tweet with her and find her on Facebook.


3 thoughts on “Jera’s Jamboree review: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

  1. Pingback: Jera’s Jamboree: Exclusive film clip! Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness and giveaway | Jera's Jamboree

  2. Pingback: Deborah Harkness events and Elizabethan Walking Tour of London | Jera's Jamboree

  3. Pingback: Jera’s Jamboree : Top 20 Fiction Reads of 2012 | Jera's Jamboree

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