Merrie's Reviews > Shadow of Night

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
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Jul 19, 2012

did not like it

** spoiler alert ** Worst. Sequel. Ever. I loved Discovery of Witches and couldn't wait to dive into the sequel, particularly now that they have traveled back in time to Elizabethan England. Unfortunately, this outing started out bad and just got worse. Harkness punishes readers with endless dialogue between Matthew's incredibly boring friends, who there are, like six of and all six of them are interchangeable and awful. Totally unnecesary characters could have been reduced to one or two friends, since they all have the same personality. Christopher Marlowe is probably the least likeable character I have ever encountered and I lost all respect for Matthew for repeatedly forgiving him for unforgiveable acts. Seriously, this guy had no redeeming qualities and I really started to question Matthew's love for Diana-- the Matthew of Discovery of Witches would have killed Marlowe after the first time he risked Diana's life at the beginning of the book.

The plot drags on and on and just goes in circles. And this is probably the clumsiest treatment of time travel that I have ever seen. The Elizabethan Matthew just disappears when contemporary Matthew shows up? Do you mean to tell me that Matthew's father somehow manages to silence all of the village at Sept Tours and all of London and all of Matthew's friends about the fact that Matthew is married so when Elizabethan Matthew returns he never finds out everything that transpired while he was in limbo? Harkness should have just proposed that Matthew and Diana were creating an alternate history. Instead she dumbly has their friends discovering traces of them in the future, which just makes no sense at all. Or she could've just had them keep a lower profile in the past. Totally amateurish and insulting to the fans, which is a shame because there is a great sequel in there somewhere.
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Comments (showing 1-36 of 36) (36 new)

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Helen I disagree with you. I am enjoying the sequel, and looking forward to part 3. I do agree with you about Marlowe. He's an ass to such a degree I can't see why Matthew never killed him, or at least beat him within an inch of his life.

Michelle LaPointe I think Marlowe was overcome with jealous and resentment of Diana. I doubt he acted that way before - or Matthew would have kicked him to the curb.

Angel I just now finished the book and one of my biggest complaints is exactly what you mentioned about Marlowe. Matthew is so very protective of Diana, ready to destroy anyone who even thinks of harming her, but he allows "Kit" to do things over and over again that put Diana at risk. Didn't make sense at all. I honestly began to wonder if we were going to learn that they were lovers. Seemed like there had to be some reason Matthew didn't punish him. I also agree that there were too many other characters. I wanted more Matthew and Diana and less of a history lesson. In general i don't like time travel stories because they never really make sense. But I loved Discovery of Witches so much! I liked Shadow of Night, but didn't love it and that was disappointing.

message 4: by Merrie (last edited Jul 12, 2012 09:15AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Merrie Exactly! In Discovery of Witches, he murdered a witch just because she sent Diana a picture that might be construed as threatening. In Shadow of Night, Kit put Diana's life at risk multiple times before flat out trying to murder her. I couldn't believe he forgave this petty little puke of a character for any of his shenangians...but when he forgave him for the kidnapping and attempted murder, the book and characters completely lost all credibility. I wish some editor had intervened on this. It is ridiculous.

message 5: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Bayles It's ok, but it's dissapointing me. NOTHING is happening and I'm tired of Christopher Marlowe being such a tool! I loved the first book :(

Polly I won't give it one star, but I was disappointed too. Seemed like most of the book was just needless filling made to stretch the story into a trilogy. The time-spinner storyline left me with too many "how the heck?" moments, and to dedicate so much time to finding "the book", only to find it and leave us more confused about what the book means than before they found it...?? I adored DOW, and I think Harkness is a brilliant woman and amazing writer, so I'm still hoping that the final book will be as phenomenal as the first!

Tanya I couldn't agree more, I spent most of the time skipping pages, when I read discovery of witches I didn't want it to end, this I couldn't wait for it to be over

Katemet You always forgive friends for things you'd never let strangers get away with. As for Elizabethan Matthew, I'm wondering how he'll think he spent those months, but she covered the London friends not telling him anything by 1, if they're creatures they know better, 2, Elizabethan Matthew will be sent directly to Amsterdam by Phillipe, and presumably stay away from England long enough for everyone to die. Also, 3, Kit Marlowe gets killed, possibly assassinated.

Erlinda Garcia I’m sorry I would have to disagree, Christopher Marlowe played an excellent part in this book! The whole book dwelled on the darkness inside the two main characters, and the characters over coming that darkness and not letting it control them. Diana with her weaver magic (life & death) and Matthew with his blood rage (life & death). He saw himself in Kit (Marlowe), I think that is why Matthew gets along so well with Daemons is because he knows what it feels like for madness (blood rage) to take over and not have control. Matthew allowing Kit to live gave us a critical understanding that Matthew’s character has developed and I believe will still develop in the 3rd book. Also with the time travel it can get tricky and hard to keep up with but I think Deborah Harkness did a brilliant job on keeping the reader aware that they were supposed to time travel along, that history had them in it for the moment it began…I know it sounds crazy but that’s how I depicted it.

message 10: by Jen (last edited Jul 18, 2012 08:43PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen Matthew is not stupid. He showed an extreme amount of control in not killing Kit when I'm sure he wanted to. I know they didn't keep a very low profile in the past but I'm pretty sure killing Marlowe before his time would have brought about an undesirable change to the future.

Christina I agree with a few comments here, I read the first book in less then a day, but Shadow just DRAGGED. I was so mad the ENTIRE book took place in the 16th Century practically. What happened to Emily and the baby? how in the world did Marcus and Phoebe come about? I enjoyed the time spent with Phillipe, but to much time was wasted with the Circle of night Fellows and hunting for that book that did not move the story forward at all.

Debbie So far this sums up my feelings too. Still struggling to finish this one....

Laura I completely agree with you. Another thing was the complete disregard for the rest of the characters that were in the future, I expected more development from their side. I was a little dissapointed and expected much more from this book.

Jamil I am still reading the book. The last 150 pages a toture to read. I agree there is too much dialogue. I could barely get through the pages when they went bird hunting.

message 15: by Misti (new) - added it

Misti Garrison Although I agree with you that it wasn't as good as the first one, i disagree about the rest. Matthew couldn't kill Marlowe because of not changing the past. This is not Fifty Shades of Grey. Diana is learning her powers and the is the chosen one, for lack of a better term. When she fully realizes her power she will be a perfect match for Matthew.

Mandy Erlinda wrote: "I’m sorry I would have to disagree, Christopher Marlowe played an excellent part in this book! The whole book dwelled on the darkness inside the two main characters, and the characters over coming ..."
I agree with you!

message 17: by Sue (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sue I agree. I thought they were going to pop into a segment of history that they knew presented as little danger to them as possible to learn how to control Diana's magic. I never imagined that they would hijack 1590 Matthew's life, completely change it and then pop back out like they'd never been there and would somehow expect everyone who lived those 7 months with them to forget everything that happened. I don't see all the courtiers of Elizabeth's and Rudolph's court keeping the fact of Matthew's witchy wife a secret. And it just had no plot. It dragged on and on without any action. The biggest action in the book (Em's death) got a 2 page mention in the end as an afterthought. What happened there??? Not a good sequel. This defiintely should not have been a trilogy.

message 18: by Tori (new)

Tori Case Despite what an ass Marlowe is you have to keep in mind that they went back in time...Matthew killing him would undoubtedly change the future. Something that drastic would have equally drastic consequences for the future.

Gisela Diaz I have read like half the book and I am disappointed not only with über macho Matthew but with Diana. A modern, highly educated woman wouldn't put up with all that Elizabethan crapola and would've dumped Matthew in the first book. She seems to like the abusive relationship she has developed with this vampire and his weird family. Totally disappointed. I wanted to know more about the witches and the Goddess.

message 20: by Alex (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alex Obviously the reason Matthew didn't kill Kit was because he knew Kit would be murdered in Deptford anyway; he already knew what fate awaited him.

Gilly G Exactly - the brooding intensity of their relationship is lost at the beginning of this second book and as a result it's nothing more than a series of events which frustrate the reader.

Danielle Estep I agree with the majority here. I've literally been 'working on' this book for about 6 weeks. I didn't want to quit because I kept hoping for the magic to happen and I felt pot-committed as I kept going. At long last, the last hundred pages kept my attention and I really hope that the 3rd book makes struggling my way through #2 worth my time.

Sandra Agree about Marlowe, disagree about the traces. Those weren't carelessly created anomalies, those were attempts to place things that couldn't be carried back with them where they could be found. I wouldn't have left those miniatures behind willingly either. And a trip just to find the Ashmole would have been wasted if they couldn't find a way to bring it forward.

message 24: by Joan (new) - added it

Joan I loved the first book but I just can't bring myself to continue to read into this second one. I haven't made it far at all and not sure if I will honestly bother picking it up again to finish.

Sarah Kontos I completely agree with Joan. I am so disappointed with this book. It was a struggle to get as far as I did.

message 26: by Dany (new) - rated it 2 stars

Dany Erlinda wrote: "I’m sorry I would have to disagree, Christopher Marlowe played an excellent part in this book! The whole book dwelled on the darkness inside the two main characters, and the characters over coming ..."
No sorry... I really don't get your point in defending the time-travel business in the book. Can you please explain to me how you think it makes sense? Cause that was for me the biggest turn-off about this book

Michael Cobb I liked the book, Harkness is a historian and most of the characters including Matthew roydon where real people. She can't just make up fake versions of the way they died, Marlowe was an Elizabethan poet who was stabbed to death years after the 1591. Don't just read the book and hope it's what you want it to be appreciate the the book for what it is.

message 28: by Dany (new) - rated it 2 stars

Dany No. You misundertood me. I don't, under any circumstance, judge the historical notion that Harness utilises .My point was about how she managed to actually not explain at all the travel business story. She doesn't provide an explanation on how it is possible that the past Matthew doesn't seem to be there. Yes, OK, we can "guess" that it's because the past has been temporarily replaced by the modern one, but it hasn't been explained. Also, how is it possible that after everything that happened, and all the people they have been in contact with, nobody will tell anything to past Matthew once the modern one is back in the future. Do we have to guess again? And also, about this time-travel power. Apparently not so few are able to do it ( as Knox can too). Then why nobody abuses of it? Are there some kind of rules in place that prevent a crazy witch to, say, go back in time and save Cleopatra before she killed herself? What I say it's that this second book doesn't explain properly how all the story it talks about can actually make sense. So yes, big first class with merit to Harkness historical notions, but she is wroting a fiction, not a historical biography, and there are loopholes as big as black-holes in this story. That made it impossible for me to fully enjoy it

Glenn Belay I think the common thread here can be ," If you don't like history, don't read historical f____g novels! I've been to many of the sites in this book, and learning how Tudor era folk lived was incredibly fascinating!
If you're looking to re read Twilight, you need not pause for a lobotomy!

message 30: by Gimi (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gimi Willie I'm not normally a fan of historical fiction. But I have to say I loved this book. ... almost more than the first one! And I read #3 in a day and a half!

Stefanus Irawan I think why the past Matthew is gone because of the "train analogy" thing that you can't take someone's places is one time to avoid overlap things (when they travel, somehow it "erased" past Matt and replaced with the new Matt). I can't give so much comment about the story because I also don't really understand time travel and the paradox around it. If they go to the past, it means that they are altering the future already...

message 32: by Liz (new) - added it

Liz I really enjoyed this book, but I agree that the way harkness treated time travel was weak. In fact, I thought it was kind of lazy

message 33: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura I'm glad to see someone has the same opinions as me. I'm halfway through the book (and have been for months), and every time I pick it up to try and force myself to start reading it again, I give up after a few pages because it is so painfully dull!! I loved the first book, so this is super disappointing. I don't even know if I can finish it. I've been debating just looking up a site that will tell me what the rest of the story is about. I can't believe I'm halfway through this huge book and Diana is only just now starting to train with other witches. Like....what the hell even happened in the first half??? It was all dialogue with Matthew's boring friends, like you said!

BhaktiM I am reading it now and I love it as much as the first one. I am anxious that Diana gains her powers soon

Merrie to those of you who are arguing that this is historical fiction, i have sad news: it is a fantasy book. Even if you take out all the fantasy, and read what is left it is a very creative spin on history with a ton of artistic license. It is a novel, so I have no problem with that. But defending Harkness's decisions as novelist based on a need for historical accuracy doesn't hold up.

Merrie to elaborate, it is correct that having Matthew kill Marlowe would have been historically inaccurate. but she didn't have to have Kit try to kill Diana again and again without Matthew retaliating in a way that was consistent with his character from the first book. Not all the characters were historical figures. Harkness could have invented an antagonist, so Matthew didn't have to be such a douche in this book.

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