Reviewed by Sara Drake

This riveting sequel to A Discovery of Witches proves Deborah Harkness has the ability to continually please the reader. In the first book of the trilogy, readers found themselves in a world where witches, deamons, and vampires walk among humans. This newest book offers the chance to see this same complex alternate reality as applied to one of the most popular eras of the past, Elizabethan England!

Diana Bishop, historian and witch, reluctantly embraced her witch heritage in the first book. A Discovery of Witches ended on a cliff hanger as Diana risked travel through time to find a teacher for her rare powers while escaping a present filled with increasing dangers. Her husband, the vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont, accompanies her as guide, protector, and companion.

The couple travels to the England of 1591 AD, a period Diana studied as a historian and Matthew lived as a vampire. Harkness provides a delightfully detailed description of Elizabethan England that left me with nothing to complain about, despite my tendency to tear apart historical fiction. I found myself delighted as various historical figures appeared on the scene (including Christopher Marlowe, Walter Raleigh, John Dee, and of course Queen Elizabeth I herself) and eagerly turned each page to discover who I would meet next.

As if this was not enough to make me enjoy Shadow of Night, Harkness provides a fast paced plot that keeps the reader on the edge of their seats from beginning to end. The first book in this trilogy got off to a slow start as Harkness took the time to introduce the characters and the world before the action began. Shadow of Night starts with action, ends with action, and there’s not a slow moment in-between. Ashmole 782, the document that began the adventure continues to provide both challenges and puzzles. Diana’s magic proves as unpredictable and uncontrolled in the past as it had been in the present. Matthew’s secrets offer both opportunities and danger, propelling them down paths they did not intend to take.

I could not put this book down, literally! I walked around the apartment reading it rather than stopping even for a moment. I rarely find books that have that ability to offer me such a magnificent journey. I look forward to the next book in the series with an eagerness unusual for me.

If you have not read the first book, do not attempt to start with this one. The author picks up where the last book ends and spends little space recounting what was learned earlier. I recommend the first book as fervently as I recommend this one. Both books represent the best of modern fantasy.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Also by Deborah Harkness: A Discovery of Witches

Sara Drake has been an avid reader since a young age. She has both a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling and a Master’s in History.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Viking Adult. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.