The British Belle (Tea and Parchment)'s Reviews > Shadow of Night

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
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's review
Sep 12, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: supernatural-paranormal, historical-fiction-or-time-travel, cover-appeal, books-i-own, signed-by-author
Read from August 10 to 26, 2012

Phew! The saga continues, and takes on a new life, in a new era of history, no less! 'Shadow of Night' marks the sequel to Harkness' fabulous debut, and I have to say, this book does not disappoint! From the very first page we are thrown back in time and back into the thick of this complexly magical and intricate story. Anyone who was blown away by the detail and depth of the world Harkness created in 'A Discovery of Witches' - prepare to lose your mind. This book has so much more depth between its pages - not to say that 'Discovery' didn't, but man oh man...only after reading the second installment in this fabulous series did I realize how ingeniously this story is constructed. Like the first book, this novel is divided into three sections (somewhat differently than the first, but there are three sections none the less). We really dive so much deeper into characterization and backstory in 'Shadow of Night'. I don't think I really "understood" the character of Matthew Clairmont (de Clairmont? Royden? Whatever his name really is) until reading this book. I loved him from the very beginning, but only upon reading 'Shadow of Night' did I start to 'get' him. And I include the word "start" in that sentence for good reason. I think the next book will hold yet more revelations and subtle nuances that reveal his nature and history. But 'Shadow of Night' went a very long way to illuminating why Matthew is the way that he is. Especially with Diana. Diana grew on me as a character in this installment also, despite her (at times) flagrant disregard for common sense (seriously, she skirts the edges of plain ditzy). I felt that elements of her strong and passionate nature were developed very effectively in 'Shadow of Night', allowing the reader to really understand why her and Matthew fit together so well. All these elements highlight what I honestly feel is the strongest point of Harkness' story telling (and possibly it's weakest as well, but we'll get to that in a minute) - the detail is breathtaking. Rarely do I feel an author merits the title 'story-weaver', but Harkness truly is worthy of its implication.

And then there's the romance. Oh my stars. The romance. I LOVE a well-written romance. A slow-burning, heart-quickening, belly-tingling love story that is both heart-warming and butterfly-inducing all at once. Diana and Matthew have such a great love story. It's amazing how Harkness manages to portray the relationship at all, considering how much back-story and intricacies exist all around the two protagonists throughout the novel. But somehow their love story is what holds all the threads together (I'm using the threads/weaving metaphor throughout this review for a reason kids - *see Diana's magic). Harkness very accurately portrays the love of two souls joined forever, but also the distance, the hurt, and the confusion that two opposing creatures can feel when realizing that they may never fully know or understand each other. This book definitely explores the theme of intimacy between a couple, in its most basic and complex forms. And did I mention the sex scenes yet? If I didn't...then that's really weird. Because they're amazing. AMAZING. Not trying to be creepy or anything. But they are.

Don't get me wrong, there are weaknesses to Harkness' book too. There were elements of this story that weren't my favorite. The description of Diana's magic as it develops, for example. While interesting and original, it didn't evoke a strong image in my mind - I found it a little too 'out-there' to visualize while reading (I'm referencing the fire-drake here, and more specifically, the scene where Diana creates her fire-drake and the tree that symbolizes her power). Although I sense that Diana's magic has yet to really show itself to its fullest potential. In fact, I'm sure that's a central element to the plot of the next book. I am thoroughly looking forward to how this element of the story ties in to the last installment - final outcome of the adventure!

As with 'Discovery', Harkness' biggest strength I also found to be her biggest weakness in 'Shadow'. The writing is so detailed, it sometimes impacts the pace of the plot. I'll be honest, if you read a lot of fast pace novels - thrillers, crime stories, or a lot of YA's with fairly one dimensional plots [not that there is anything wrong with any of these genres] - you will probably not like this book. In all honesty, you will probably hate it, and not be able to finish. I must admit, there were even a few days where I struggled to get through some of the chapters - the last couple hundred pages were...slow-burning, to say the least. But it works. At least, I think it does. Harkness didn't embark of this mammoth of a debut book series because she had a whim to write a quick romance. These books are lofty in their goals, epic in their proportions, and fearless in their execution. They make a very bold statement. And in my opinion, the result is at once valiant, grandiose, and exquisite.
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Reading Progress

08/10/2012 page 18
08/12/2012 page 58
10.0% " much as I do love Matthew, the feminist in me is starting to take issue with his blatant control issues..."
08/12/2012 page 88
15.0% " much as I do love Matthew, the feminist in me is starting to take issue with his blatant control issues..."
08/13/2012 page 116
20.0% " much as I do love Matthew, the feminist in me is starting to take issue with his blatant control issues..."
08/13/2012 page 199
34.0% "Oh, Sept-Tours, you feel like home to me! <3 And I <3 Philippe so much too!"
08/14/2012 page 215
37.0% "London in the 1500's at Christmas! I can almost smell the woodsmoke and the ivy garlands!"
08/15/2012 page 303
52.0% "Well, well. Quite an info-dumpy chapter, but damn. DAMN!! The every thickening plot!"
08/17/2012 page 357
61.0% "Well, well. Quite an info-dumpy chapter, but damn. DAMN!! The every thickening plot!"
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Sophie Jeynes Well? First thoughts?

The British Belle (Tea and Parchment) Thank god I'm reading this book instead of hte last one :P Thrown right back in to the thick of it! Hoping Kit will get a little nicer, not much enjoying his jealousy at the beginning.

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