In Shadow of Night: A Novel, Deborah Harkness’s second installment in the All Souls Trilogy, we meet up again with Matthew and Diana. Matthew is a vampire, and Diana is a time-walking witch. Matthew and Diana have married and broken one of the main rules of the covenant that governs witches, vampires and daemons. This book picks up where the first book left off – they have traveled to the past to find a witch to help Diana learn more about witchcraft.
In the past they (unfortunately, in my opinion) encounter many historical figures. When they reach the past, Matthew’s character also changes for the worst. Matthew is part of the School of Night. He’s known as the Shadow, one of Queen Elizabeth’s spies. When they initially encountered the members of the School of Night, this book lost me. These characters were not likeable, and I don’t feel they added anything to the story line. They were forgettable and in many instances obnoxious. Christopher Marlowe, in particular, was horrible. The Matthew from the first book would have beat the crap out of him or killed him. The Matthew in this second book seems to turn a blind eye. He forgives him all the vicious remarks he makes about Diana and doesn’t even seem to realize that this ridiculous character is plotting violence against her.
I had to put the book down several times. I bought it in hardcover when it first came out in July, 2012. I couldn’t wait to continue on with the story that was begun in A Discovery of Witches. I read ADOW twice. I tried to read SON when it first came out but could not get into the characters in the School of Night or even past the pages where they were introduced. I finally purchased a second copy of this book on my Kindle on Christmas day and made myself soldier on past the parts with the ridiculous School of Night characters. Once I got free of those pages, the book began to grab my interest and other characters (not real historical people) were introduced. That was when the book got a lot better. Deborah Harkness does a great job with characters and details when they are fictional people. I’ve never been wild about authors throwing real people into novels and making them part of the story. Maybe it’s just me, but it doesn’t ring true for me.
In the end, I would say that I enjoyed this book. It just took me a while to get through parts of it. I look forward to the final book in the trilogy.