Shadow of Night Book Review

I finally finished reading Shadow of Night book two of the All Souls Trilogy. I loved the first book and the tv series. This book…. This book took me a minute to get through. And by a minute I mean I nearly abandoned it. I had a lot of problems with this book. I’ve checked out the other reviews of Shadow of Night so i know this is going to be an unpopular opinion but hear me out. Or ignore me. You do you and read what you want.

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Picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night takes Diana and Matthew on a trip through time to Elizabethan London, where they are plunged into a world of spies, magic, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the School of Night.

This book picks up right at the end of Discovery of Witches and the first 50 or so pages are just fine, if a little drawn out. My problem starts just about the moment they end up in Elizabethan London. Harkness gets too bogged down in the specifics. So much time is wasted addressing silly (although I admit valid points) about Diana’s accent and height. The type of dress she’s wearing. How she’s wearing it. The history behind it. There were moments when I felt like I was reading a history book. Which leads me to my next problem.

Harkness name drops so many important figures in history that Matthew conveniently knew and is friends with it’s impossible to believe. You want me to believe this vampire who wants to exist in ambiguity and the fear of discovery by humans knows Marlowe? Shakespeare? Raleigh? The Queen? Literally every important historical figure? It’s not realistic. There are so many characters, so many names, so many people to keep track of and NONE OF THEM ARE RELEVANT TO THE PLOT. I’ll take that back. One is half relevant for three pages but really that entire event could have been taken out and not changed anything in the plot so yes, sorry they are all irrelevant.

Diana and Matthew go into the past in order to learn about her magic and to try to find the Ashmole 782. That doesn’t even begin until you’re nearly halfway through the book. Most of this book is Diana and Matthew playing house, having normal days, “the day in the life of…” with no plot development. You are continually introduced to new people that mean nothing. I literally skipped two pages of introductions of other important historical people (people I frankly didn’t know because I don’t have a degree in Elizabethan History) and it didn’t effect my ability to keep up with the plot at all.

This book could have been so much shorter. I’m talking 150-175 pages shorter. So much of what happens isn’t relevant, doesn’t move the plot, is straight up confusing, or boring. It was almost as though Harkness forgot what she was writing and decided to write a Jane Austen book for half of it.

Another big problem I had was the dialogue. I could never tell who was talking. Diana and Matthew would be in a room with five other people and there would be one speaker tag in four speakers…maybe. And so often in these large group settings Diana wouldn’t speak at all. This is told from her point of view and yet there were pages were she just sat there silently without a single thought or reaction. It read like a third person POV most of the time.

I struggled with this book. But I love the plot of the series and the world so I’m going to stick it out and pray the third book makes up for the mess that was the second.