Sarah-Lambert Cook's Reviews > Shadow of Night

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
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Jul 17, 2012

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bookshelves: curl-up-and-get-cozy-reads, romance, fantasy, series-that-work
Read in August, 2012

I read Deborah Harkness' "A Discovery of Witches" on a whim last summer and really enjoyed it. The story was quickly paced, the characters interesting and with plenty of chemistry, and the plot played out fairly well. When I heard the second in her series was coming out soon I was pretty excited! Unfortunately, that excitement quickly dissipated once I started reading...

First off, if you haven't read the first book in this series very recently, you may want to give it a glance as a refresher. "Shadow of Night" picks up RIGHT where "A Discovery of Witches" left off and never bothers to refresh the readers memory about anything. I don't mind that at all, but it did mean going back and playing catch-up. If you're new to the trilogy then you must start with book one. There is no jumping on the bandwagon in the middle with this one.

***Warning: beyond this point there are a few spoilers.***

One of my biggest peeves with a lot of time travel fiction is when the primary characters are constantly meeting historically famous people to an unrealistic point. It's like the author sensed this might start making the reader say, "Come on! Gah!" because she even peppered in a couple of thoughts by the protagonist expressing astonishment that her ancient vampire spouse knew Every Famous Elizabethan Person. It might have just been a nuisance easily overlooked, but most of the dialogue between the primary characters and historical figures was bland and failed to give us a sense of the character. These were REAL people, for goodness sake, at least try to flesh them out a teeny-weeny bit.

My second peeve with the time travel scheme was how poorly it was executed. The main two characters go back into the past to a point in time which one of them has already lived through and his "self" from that time period just happily vanishes to chill in limbo? How convenient for them that they don't have to constantly hide a vampire from his former self (that would have made the story so much more interesting). Even more ridiculous is the notion that when these two get back to the "present" he will come back and everyone will just go about their merry way without ever noting any changes or mentioning to him, "Hey, whatever happened to your wife, ole what's-her-witch?" .... What?!

It seemed like everything that had me excited about "A Discovery of Witches" was non-existent or stunted in "Shadow of Night." The character development throughout was pretty poor, the story would drag impossibly slow through some times and then suddenly skip quickly over others, and the plot seemed to lose its way sometimes. Too many characters were introduced and too many cliches used in the main couple's relationship (to the point where it was becoming all too predictable).

One of the most disappointing encounters in the book came near the end. What should have been a really rich reunion of two people was hurried through and never given much substance. It was pretty unfortunate.

To Harkness' credit, she did keep me interested and I still enjoyed the book. Since the third will once again be set in modern times, I'll probably end up reading it. Hopefully, Ms. Harkness will take more time with this one and present a work much closer resembling her original offering. A trilogy that began and ended well will be worth coming back to even if I have to overlook the sad-sack middle piece.


***Reread In August 2013 and I'm bumping this up a star to 3. The same peeves are there that I had on the first go-round, but I read a bit slower this time and found myself enjoying it a little more. Having fun with this one will keep me from ever hating it.
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08/22/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Sarah-Lambert (last edited Jul 19, 2012 04:44PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sarah-Lambert Cook Exactly!! Maybe she'll back-track in the next one and try to introduce the idea of a new timeline now that they messed with history...

**Merrie, I think I accidentally deleted your comment, but I completely agree with what you'd said.


Tracy Murphy I think this book suffers from what I call " mushy middle book" syndrome. Regardless I love this story and main characters too much to give this a bad review. There I things I wish we're done better( like the rushed end) but it is all good.


Missy I agree, waited so anxiously for the sequel and really didn't care for it. Your points are all well taken. Time travel is confusing at best and this was a mess, and meeting way too many famous characters was a pet peeve of mine.


April Boswell I also thought that the descriptions of "weaving" we're vague and hard to envision. What made it worse was the constant reference to the "threads" yet you really never got the feeling that Diana or the reader understood what was taking place. I found myself bored and annoyed with the characters, whereas in the first book I was enamored with them.


April Boswell I also thought that the descriptions of "weaving" we're vague and hard to envision. What made it worse was the constant reference to the "threads" yet you really never got the feeling that Diana or the reader understood what was taking place. I found myself bored and annoyed with the characters, whereas in the first book I was enamored with them.


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