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on 4 August 2012
I liked a Discovery of Witches but I found some of the romance between Diana and Matthew (the sweeping up in his strong arms) a bit grating after a while. However, the whole world of adult witches, vampires and daemons was great and so I looked forward to the sequel as it would be set in London in 1590, one of my favourite eras.

I liked this story more than the first, the characters are more established and although Matthew is moody, Diana stands up to him and they have a mature adult relationship. I loved the descriptions of Elizabethan London and the people they meet, I would have liked a bit more about how strange the world would have been compared to the modern world but nonetheless, it kept my attention. When this series works well is when Diana is learning to become a witch, this is something I'd like to see more of.

In all, I liked this, it was better than the first in my opinion and if you like the world of witches and vampires, then it is worth a read.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 July 2015
I enjoyed The Discovery of Witches to the extent that I've read it a good few times now so it seemed only fitting to give the much awaited sequel a go. One of my favourite parts of the last book was the historical mentions from time to time so I could barely contain my excitement when I found at the end of the previous book that we would be going back to the Elizabethan era to try and find those missing pages from Ashmole 782!

Of course, Diana and Matthew are magnets for trouble so all sorts of happenings occur whilst we meet Matthews former friends from years ago. It was particularly interesting to get to meet some "famous" characters and names that I recognised from this era but it was also quite fun to read about how Matthew would have known these characters. Obviously, you need to have an open mind with this because Harkness does take a few liberties, but I still enjoyed this aspect of the novel and thought she did a great job of piecing this together.

I really did want to love this book, and I wasn't expecting not to, but I did find myself a little swamped with information. Harkness goes on and on about how Diana is beneath Matthew in terms of their hierarchy, particularly when it comes to how she should behave in his household - I found this a bit too much, a few mentions would have been enough! Additionally, because of all the lengthy descriptions of seemingly unimportant things such as what skirt Diana is wearing, not a lot happens for QUITE a long time.

Honestly, the best part for me was meeting some of the more memorable characters from History. I loved the chapters which included anything to do with Queen Elizabeth and I adored the way her character was written; it was refreshing to see Harkness throw in a bit more humour and play around with this character. However, I'm not sure I really spent any time whilst reading enjoying Diana or Matthew. In fact, I feel like I might have lost a bit of my love for them because of Matthew's persistently "woe-is-me, I've had a horrible, long, depressing life" stories and Diana's "I'd die for you" mentality. Maybe I'm just cynical.

It has to be said that Harkness does write very well; she literally couldn't have fit more historical knowledge in there even if she did play with the truth a little bit. I did enjoy this book, perhaps not as much as the previous because of how excessive some of her descriptions were, and I did feel that Diana lost a lot of her spark because she was made to seem like Matthew's partner rather than a character unto herself. Despite this I would recommend this to anyone who enjoyed the previous book in the series, but be aware that you'll need to be patient and probably have something soft to throw the book at from time to time when you get frustrated!!
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on 30 October 2016
After having read and enjoyed the Discovery of Witches, although at times finding the romance between Dianna and Matthew a tad too much, this book was downright painful. It is hard to believe it is written by the same person!

They specifically go back in time to find a witch to teach Dianna but 15 chapters in they still haven't found one.
They travel back to the sixteenth century with apparently no awareness of the never ending danger this would put them in.
Dianna (the brave and powerful lioness) has become a rather pathetic and weak female character who brings nothing but contradiction and bad one liners to the story and Matthew's character is deeply entrenched in victim mentality with absolutely none of the fierce intelligence we saw in the first book.

I became so frustrated with the contrast and horrific contradictions I actually cried out "oh come on!!", on more than one occasion.
It's as thought this was written because it had to be.
Bad editing to boot!
The story goes round and round in badly written circles that reach desperately for a remote semblance of a plot.

After recommending the first book to many people and purchasing it for one, I am shocked and most disappointed at this ill attempt at a sequel.

47% of the way through and I just can't do it anymore.

The only redeeming factor and reason I made it this far, are the historical references which provide the reader with some small thread for the imagination amidst the jarring conradictions that are hard to follow.

E.g. Being summoned dramatically to meet the vampire who controls all of London (suddenly appearing in the story out of nowhere) because Matthew didn't introduce Dianna to him upon arrival... the tension builds dramatically with the knights all getting ready to go to this meeting together. Next, in the dark underbelly of the church (where Dianna who can barely see a thing as mentioned SO many times) she can see the colour of this guys irises after he quickly finishes turning someone into a vampire and then comes over to intimidate Dianna. Matthew acts brooding and the usual threats of violence, anger, blah, then Dianna commandeers the conversation and reminds them that she is under Phillips protection so she cannot be touched by him as the de Clermonts have amnesty from him in London (why they had to go through all of this when everyone knew that she is his wife, hence a de Clermont, is beyond me) then she has a casual chat with him and asks him to send her a witch to train her because she is tired and wants to go home. Nevermind the fact that these are their enemies and there is extreme danger anyone finding out she is a witch because witches are being arrested and tortured all over as we've encountered endlessly in ever chapter. Painful. Painful. Painful.

How can lead characters change so radically and become so pathetic and downright stupid.
How can the premise for the adventure (finding a witch to teach her) be no closer to being achieved, and only remotely attempted, half way through the book?
Come on!
The characters both now appear weak and utterly exasperating.
Diana's powers have all but disappeared and Matthew's strength and intelligence are both long gone.
Like a weak, love struck teenage witch and a brooding sulky vampire.

Let's not even get into the pregnancy. She falls pregnant as soon as they consummate their marriage (well the third one) and a weak later Matthew can hear the baby? A bit of research on fetal development may have helped here since there is no heartbeat at this stage and practically no difference in blood levels in the female body. Ok so let's give them this anyway but then Diana's response is "yeah I know"... Seriously? You've built up this story over two books with the imminent threat and danger and rarity of this impossibility and her response is flippant as though Matthew pointed out a missing button! Exasperating!!!

For a fantasy novel it reads like a bad teenage romance and for historical fiction it lacks in plot and character.
Seldom does a novel actually anger me but this one has managed.

Wish I could say I hope the third is better but there is simply no way I can make it through the second to find that out.
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To make any sense at all of this, the second book in the All Souls trilogy, you really need to have read the opening episode, A Discovery of Witches to make head or tail of the relationship between the two lead characters. Diana, an academic historian and untrained modern-day witch, has fallen hard for Matthew, an ancient vampire; one of those cross-species forbidden loves which is further complicated by her inability to use any of her natural magicks and his melancholic verging on downright miserable personality, which dwells on multiple lifetimes of sorrow.

Here they plunge back in time seeking answers from an olde booke of magicke in the Elizabethan era, where Diana may also be able to find wise witches to teach her how to control her increasingly unruly powers. What follows is more a traditional historical romance, replete with the minutae of Elizabethan life, than your average spookynatural romp. More of this novel seems to be given over to the less-than-gripping details about how to run a gentleman’s household, how wide one’s ruff should be, and how many hoops a well-to-do lady wears inside her skirt than the infinitely more interesting matter of unleashing Diana’s familiar, a frisky fire-dragon.
We trudge through an awful lot of meeting-the-family and rehabilitating waifs and strays, and endure a tip of the hat to every well-known Elizabethan in town – because of course the ageless vampire Matthew was best friends wich Walter Rayleigh and Christopher Marlowe, wasn’t he?
Reflecting the social situations of the time, for most of this book Diana becomes little more than a shadow of her freshly-wedded undead husband, much less the heroine in her own story. The plot insists that the couple are at risk from daemons, vampires, withches and warmbloods alike but in truth the most danger seems to come from domestic bickering, sulking and misunderstanding.
Worse still, it seems that Diana the independent person only truly becomes whole and complete in herself when she falls pregnant: her intellect and potential abilities being massively downplayed at the first hint of morning sickness.
Only in the final third of the book do we get to the interesting witchy stuff, and even then it’s tantalisingly light on detail. Diana knows more about the nature of her art but is still strikingly inept, and rather than growing more confident with the support of a soulmate she appears almost undermined by her relationship.
Shadow Of The Night is a long novel, well written, and absolutely stuffed full of historial footnotes. It’s a tour de force of historical research and re-telling, and Deborah Harkness certainly spares no detail in any situation. But for me the character developments and the compelling aspects of the plot were overwhelmed with this indulgence in the past. I was also hugely disappointed not only by Diana’s personal development but also by the portrayal of the aging Queen Elizabeth, seen here as petulant and somewhat spiteful. The encounter between two brilliant women could have been so much more rewarding, but it felt as if the opportunity was lost in a desire to maintain some kind of historical veracity.

For me, more fanciful fiction would have been more enjoyable. Although this was an extremely accomplished novel, I’m not sure that I now like either of the protagonists enough to care what happens to them next in the final part of the trilogy. This leans too far into 'historical romance' and a way from 'supernatural speculation for my tastes. It feels like a missed opportunity.
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on 12 January 2016
I can honestly say that although this was a bit of a chore for me after loving the first book of the trilogy all has not been lost as I absolutely love the last book The Book Of Life. I had to skip through pages of Shadow of the Night because it became so tedious for me, it was not the writing or anything to do with the main charcters the issue for me was that we travelled to a completely new time and place and I lost the familiarity of the first book. Even though we visit Sept Tours in Shadow of Night it didnt feel the same, I struggled because we touched on a new era and it felt a bit messy, although the main theme ran through it, I got a bit lost with the famous characters and the relevance of them. That said I wasnt put off from buying the last book and I am enjoying it, so for those of you who have the same thoughts as me when you finish Shadow of Night dont be put off, buy the last book and relish it because it really is cracking. I am only a quarter of the way through but cant stop thinking of it, I am also a little bit sad as its coming to the end.
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on 12 January 2013
I bought this book having read the first. Un -put-downable. Got it on Monday finished by Thursday, says it all really. The story starts exactly where the previous story left off.
The journey through 16th century Europe and England - amazing. The historical detail and the links with known historical figures are tantalising and careful interwoven into the plot. I lost myself in the day to day life of Matthew and Diana and their European trip.
Yes towards the end there is a mention of a secondary characters demise, with no further detail, this I suspect will be righted in the third instalment.
For me, none of the original magic was lost, and as predicted by Hamish, Matthew's character changes due to the interaction of the new group of characters, but also down to the historical period in which the story is set. It wouldn't have been right if he had stayed as the 21st century man in the 16th century.

I can't wait for the next instalment, just to see how all this pans out.
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on 18 March 2017
Slow start and you have to have read the first book but what a great angle on witches and vampires. totally original take and nearly plausible. clever and consistent characterisation - love the introduction of historical celebrities. Well crafted. A mix of Harry Potter, Phillipa Gregory and Bram Stoker!
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on 19 July 2014
A well written and very readable the second part of this trilogy is better than first in many ways as the author gets to understand her characters a little better. Their actions and reactions to events around them become more natural as the story progresses and as the rest of the cast emerges from being simple cyphers to characters in their own right

I read them all and I have really enjoyed this adult Harry Potter romp through the centuries.
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on 12 May 2017
This one carried right on where the previous one left off no waffle, or reffering back constantly that takes up half of some books a nice change.
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on 15 May 2017
Perhaps the more complicated of the three books in this trilogy, but that makes it great to read a second time.
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