Harkness’s much-anticipated sequel, Shadow of Night, picks up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending. Diana and Matthew time-travel to Elizabethan London and are plunged into a world of spies, magic, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the School of Night.
As the search for Ashmole 782 deepens and Diana searches for a witch to tutor her in magic, the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them, and they embark on a very different—and vastly more dangerous—journey.
Comment: This is the second installment of the All Souls Trilogy by author Deborah Harkness. This trilogy has been quite successful when it was released and many readers have commented on how magical it was. I liked the first book so I knew I'd read the rest and now I've finished the second one.
In this second book, Diana and Matthew have traveled to the past to run from the Congregation, a group of people who wants to get their hands on Ashmole 782, the book/document out protagonists also looking for. Considering it was not possible to get it again after the first time Diana saw it at the library, they decide to find its location in the past and, at the same time, to enhance Diana's control on her powers.
But traveling to the past can also mean to see specific people and to face issues that they don't have in the present. And will they accomplish what they aimed for?
Again, I was well entertained by this sequel the way I was by the first book. I thought that, by traveling in time, it would be a bit more boring to read about because characters can't obviously behave the same way. But I was positively surprised by how fun it was to red this book. But with 700 pages in my edition, it took me some time, especially because every word had a purpose and was interesting to read about and I dedicated a lot of time to focus on the story.
The magical aspects are still alive and well in this installment and I was really looking for to know more about Matthew's past and how could Diana improve her skills by meeting different witches in a different time. All their adventures were intriguing and I liked how, despite the danger and some clues here and there about their actions were (minimally) affecting the present, we were always able to have some notion about how far things could go.
It was extremely important to me and to my personal experience to be able to read without fearing one of them, or both, could be caught or put in a too dangerous situation. This means, they were able to do what they had to, they were basically running from an enemy but thankfully they were always a step ahead and even when it didn't seem so, we were still given that impression.
I liked this take on Matthew and Diana's relationship. What they face here brings them together and I really liked how they never lost track of who they were together. They are a unit and they face problems together, I liked how neither got lost in their own issues and the environment of the past.
I liked they went a step forward in their relationship but they maintain the same personality as before. I like the consistency in their personalities, even if they do change in terms of characterization.
One detail I really liked, for the most part, was that, because the book is divided into 6 sections, at the end of each we get a chapter with how things are going in the present. Some of these chapters give us intriguing scenes of some characters. I'm so eager now to read the final book because I want to see how everyone will interact now that the focus will be on them all.
In terms of plot, this book was long and detailed but fun to read about. It's clear the author has a lot of knowledge not only about Elizabethan England but also about poetry and real people and history from this time. Better still was how all the information is seamlessly intertwined with the fictional part of the story and all seems easy and fluid and believable within the world created. Basically, I think the author did a good job in letting us feel we were with Diana and Matthew there.
All in all, this was a great adventure. We learn many things, some more interesting than others, but this installment was useful in terms of characterization if not real progress in finding the book that started it all. I hope the final book is everything I look for. In a way, this was better than the first book, in my opinion.