Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Kiki & Jules Review:  5+ stars

For the first time, in a long time, We feel the need to put this:
***This review contains slight spoilers. If you have not read the book please proceed with caution.***
As hard as we have tried we are unable to write about this review without divulging some information, but promise that the innermost secrets of the plot will not be discussed.

Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2)

"It begins with absence and desire.
It begins with blood and fear.
It begins with a discovery of witches."

Those words rang more true as we stepped with Diana and Matthew into The Old Lodge in this second installment of the All Souls trilogy, Shadow of Night. This go around our story takes us on a journey back to the Elizabethan era for Diana to discover what her magic truly holds.  For Matthew this is a quick trip amongst old friends in a time he recognizes and knows how to live.  He gives the impression that they can be in and out in a couple of weeks, no problem.  Diana, who kept her wits during the trip, recognizes the flaws in Matthew's plan straight away. Matthew's friends aren't just a group of pals, but some of the most influential men of the time, the famed members of The School of Night.  What does that lead us to find out about Matthew?  He is none other than a historian's dream, the mysterious member of the school, Matthew Roydon.  Now propelled into this new situation, Diana must strive to fit in because she knows that all the major players, including the Queen, will have eyes on her.  And even though Matthew assures her that witch hunts were not prominent during this time, Diana quickly reminds him that even a small inquiry is witch hunt enough.

Matthew and Diana soon find that their path leads more to what Diana was imagining and puts Matthew in a grave situation.  How does a man relive his past knowing what he knows now?  How does this man, who has changed so greatly over time, live with himself if he is forced to maintain the decisions he made in that time? A famed witch hater appears before the masses married to a witch. As Queen Elizabeth said "The past cannot be cured."  Matthew's struggles throughout the book show the reader the true insides of what makes him tick. We grow with Matthew and Diana as they learn that falling in love is only half the battle in a marriage, but staying in love is the true prize.  Can you love someone even with their past demons?

We picked up this book and couldn't put all 592 pages of it back down. Try as we might to slow our pace and draw it out, it couldn't be done. The book is divided into 6 parts, taking us on 6 wonderful journeys. The new characters were woven in so seamlessly with the old that you quickly fall in love with them. We would be amiss if we didn't say that our favorite part was the trip to Sept-Tours. Meeting Phillipe changed everything for us in the book. It was no wonder Ysabeau loved him so. Then, taking a tour of old London was like living a dream. Our senses were on overload with every turn of the page. The words were so brilliantly written we felt as if we sat at the table with Sir Walter Raleigh, Thomas Harriot, Christopher Marlowe, and George Chapman. The knowledge that Ms. Harkness has for this time period is evident so much that you will question whether she has time traveled herself.   By the end of the book we were so overwhelmed we couldn't separate up from down.  Some would say it carried too much information, but we say "never."  We can't imagine any part of this book being left out.  Each step taken by Matthew and Diana is important and we know will play a part in the next book.

We encourage you to take this journey back in time. You must read A Discovery of Witches first in order to understand Shadow of Night, but it is more than worth your time.  One of the best reads of the year!!

Happy Reading!!
Kiki & Jules

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