Shadow of Night, the second in the All Souls trilogy and follow-up release to the highly acclaimed A Discovery of Witches, picks up exactly where the first novel leaves off with Diana Bishop and Matthew de Clermont time walking back into Elizabethan England to the year 1590. Fans of the first novel – of which there were many, with A Discovery of Witches being one of the breakout novels of 2011 – will be thrilled for yet another helping of Harkness’ brand of historical and scientific fiction where Harkness’ background as a professor of history shines through in the text yet again.
Though A Discovery of Witches has been heralded repeatedly as “Harry Potter meets Twilight for adults,” Shadow of Night presents as less so reading much more as a fictionalized history text that doesn’t quite meet the standards set forth in the first book of the trilogy.
Sure, you’ll get a handful of thrills from the novel alongside a few predictable developments that unfold in the first half; however, my overwhelming feeling was disappointment. Whereas I read A Discovery of Witches without regards to meals or bedtimes wanting only to devour every word on the page as quickly and fully as possible; Shadow of Night didn’t quite quench the thirst that began when Discovery ended, and only towards the end did I really feel engrossed in the novel.
Part of this disappointment may be due to the high expectations readers, like myself, were left with after the first book, and part may be due to the entirely different feel of the novel. And if it weren’t for the same characters, you almost wouldn’t remember they were a related series!
That being said, I was not so uninterested in the novel as to forgo the third. In fact, I still anxiously await the release of the concluding book in the All Souls trilogy, and hope that it tends more towards the first than the second.