Elizabeth's Reviews > Shadow of Night

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
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's review
Apr 30, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: adult-fiction, historical-fiction, chick-lit, kindle, sci-fi-and-fantasy, time-travel
Read from July 29 to August 02, 2012

I'd been looking forward to the release of this book from the minute I put down the first book in the All Souls Trilogy, which I devoured in about a day. I did enjoy this one, but not nearly as much as the previous book. As others have noted, I felt like Harkness got bogged down in all the nitty-gritty details of life the late 16th century and the difficulties our 21st-century protagonist, Diana, encountered adapting to life in 1590.

I felt like every time the plot moved forward, it was like a stage hook jerked the story back into focus after getting lost in the minutia. This wasn't nearly so present in the first book, but that's probably because Harkness is an Elizabethan literary scholar and presumably has all this knowledge of the era she wants to write about. I get that. If you're passionate about something, you can sometimes get lost in it. But her editor should have helped her narrow down the focus a bit.

It also seemed like the ending got rushed and some things that we really should have seen were skipped altogether (perhaps the editor/publisher saying "Hurry it up already, we need to get this to the press. Pen down.") The two biggest examples of this for me were (view spoiler)

I felt a little ambivalent about the whole 21st-century-Matthew-displacing-16th-century-Matthew-for-nearly-a-year thing, too. I like the idea in theory, and it sort of makes sense. I can buy that there can't be two of the same person in one timeline. But they made absolutely no effort to stay hidden away from Matthew's life during that time or set up some cover story for when the 16th-century Matthew returned, sans wife and back to his witch-hating ways. What did they expect to have happen when Queen Lizzie -- or anyone they'd interacted with for the past 9 months -- asks him about his wife, and he's like "um, not married, Your Majesty." I felt a little sorry for 16th-century Matthew, having to come back to his life and have absolutely no frickin' idea what had transpired over the past 9 months or how to answer questions about anything that had occurred when 21st-century Matthew was living his life.

(view spoiler)


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