Book Review: Shadow Of Night (The All Souls Trilogy #2) by Deborah Harkness

“You tell me that magic is just desire made real. Maybe spells are nothing more than words that you believe with all your heart.”

Published in 2012 and the second book in Deborah Harkness‘s All Souls Trilogy, Shadow Of Night picks up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, as Diana and Matthew go 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. As the search for Ashmole 782 deepens and Diana seeks out a witch to tutor her in magic, the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them, and they embark on a very different and vastly more dangerous journey.


After absolutely loving A Discovery of Witches, I couldn’t wait to get stuck into Shadow Of Night. But I had been repeatedly warned about the much slower pace, and I did initially struggle for the same reason.

I say “initially struggle”, but it was probably for about 75% of the book. There are a lot of new characters thrown in at the start who all seem to be merely distracted from the point of the story. While it’s interesting to go back in time and see Matthew return to a previous life in Elizabethan London, I wanted to get to the action!

Matthew and Diana are hiding in the past with a goal, but they largely seem to forget about this as we instead focus on their relationship. And while I wanted to see their relationship develop, I would have much preferred for this to happen after more developments in the story took place, to help build the tensions that book one set up.

However, we do get to meet some very interesting characters along the way. There were two in particular that I loved meeting, but I won’t say who to avoid any spoilers.

And the story does eventually pick up the pace and get to the point better. The last 12 or so chapters are especially brilliant! As we get more glimpses into the present, too, my anticipation soon started to build up again for what’s to come.

So while this book admittedly feels very different from the first, it does still leave you wanting more. It just took a while to get there!


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