After finishing A Discovery of Witches I immediately put a hold on Deborah Harkness’ second book, Shadow of Night.
Diana and Matthew have traveled back to Elizabethan England to find a witch who can teach Diana. But time travel is a little tricky with a vampire. Matthew attempts to reinsert himself into his past life, but his love for Diana has changed him. His friends are stunned to learn of his witchy wife and his sudden desire to save witches from persecution across England and Scotland. Diana discovers that despite the ban against supernatural creatures meddling in politics, Matthew is deeply embroiled in the politics of the day. Diana also loses herself in history, befriending lady alchemists, an emperor, famed authors, street urchins, and several scientists. Diana discovers that she is a weaver and therefore a creator of spells, explaining why she has always been an utter failure at perfecting spells others have tried to teach her.
As Diana learns to command her powers, Matthew and his friends track down Ashmole 782. They hope to find it still intact in the 1600s, because in the present three pages are missing making the text illegible. After months of searching, they are able to track it to a deranged daemon alchemist, Edward Kelley, in Prague. They learn some startling facts from their brief encounter with the intact text. But, when they return to steal Ashmole 782, Kelley has already ripped several pages from the book. They leave the text in the past, so that it will make its way back to the safety of the Bodleian in the future, and presumably the plot of the third book will be to track down the missing pages and finally learn about the origins of supernatural beings.
The big surprise from this book is the development of Diana and Matthew’s love. After a grand total of THREE wedding ceremonies, Diana and Matthew finally abandon their chaste relationship. They discover that like the alchemical text predicted, they are able to conceive. Diana and Matthew have to figure out what their baby means for their relationship as well as for supernatural beings everywhere.
Despite the length of this book review, I have left SO many things out. Long lost family members pop up, a daemon named Kit tries everything in his power to break up Diana and Matthew, Diana discovers her familiar, and pregnancies in the 1600s don’t always go as planned. I feel like the second book is a faithful continuation of A Discovery of Witches, although it fails to answer any of the questions Harkness left readers with in her first book. The second book is slower paced, but I hope is setting up an amazing resolution in the last book of the trilogy.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The one thing I just couldn’t get over was Kit! Kit repeatedly tries to break up Diana and Matthew. He rats them out to the supernatural “authorities,” begs her to just leave, and at one point flat-out tries to kill the woman! What super protective vampire is just going to let his friend get away with that? Because Kit’s character is based on a historical figure, I suppose she had to let him live… but it was still really frustrating and odd for the story. That being said, I’m very sad that Harkness hasn’t even finished the third book! I will definitely be anxiously awaiting the conclusion!