The first book in the trilogy, A Discovery of Witches, was one of my top 10 fiction reads for 2011. Purely because I loved it so much I was a bit ambivalent when Shadow of Night came round on my reading schedule. Would it live up to my expectations?
Chapter One carries on exactly where we left off with Diana and Matthew. We knew they had timewalked but didn’t know if they’d reached their destination (what a cliffhanger!). Arriving safely in Matthew’s home, the Old Lodge, the first person they meet in 16th century Oxford is Christopher Marlowe (Kit) quickly followed by the rest of the group of men from The School of Night. The reader quickly becomes immersed while Diana is adjusting to the fashions and expectations of 16th century England.
After the timewalking, Diana’s powers have undergone another change. Their attempts to find someone to train Diana do not turn out well (they are forced to flee!) but they eventually find a ‘constituency’ of witches in London who can tell Diana what her powers are and begin her training on how to use them. I really enjoyed this thread of the story. Some of the scenes are amazing!
Matthew is a prominent figure in society. The De Clairmont family are well known and his father Phillipe holds a lot of power. It is not long before Phillipe summons them to the family chateaux in France. Traumatic for Matthew, it is here that Diana is tested and Matthew finally finds peace.
Once again they are forced to leave … and this time go to Elizabethan London! Queen Elizabeth sends them to Prague to bring back her alchemist but they also want to go there because they think the manuscript, Ashmole 782, is there.
The characters we meet through the 16th century are brilliantly portrayed. There are characters who cause immense tension (Father Hubbard) and also those who bring heartache (when they have to leave to go back to their own time). Prominent members of history are key figures. The historical aspect is very well researched. You really do feel as if you’re living through the 16th century. There are a couple of characters that appear (who are important to Diana) and I loved the way they were part of the whole.
Diana’s character really grows in strength throughout Shadow of Night. We also get to see a different Matthew as he takes on his 16th century persona. Their love for each other changes and grows and is also a major thread in the story. It is still very deep and intense.
At relevant times we dip back into the present with something from the 16th century as the trigger. Diana and Matthew spend a lot of time in the past and therefore some of their actions effect the present. This gave everyone in the present clues. There is a very poignant moment attached to one of these items. I thought this added yet another exciting aspect to the story.
Ashmole 782 wasn’t quite what I expected it to be! DNA once again plays an important part in the story – I can’t say why – no spoilers!
The ending … Diana still has something to discover and there is intrigue waiting to be discovered …
I was determined to savour every page but the story held me in its grip … there is just so much to pull you in I just couldn’t help turning the pages as fast as I could. I feel bereft now I’ve finished!
Shadow of Night can be read alone as the back-story is revealed at relevant times. However, I do highly recommend you read A Discovery of Witches first – there is so much you would be missing.
I would like to thank Caitlin Raynor from Headline for providing an uncorrected proof copy in exchange for an honest review.