Our giveaway winner was Amy! Enjoy!
ORDER A COPY: Shadow of Night: A Novel
Publisher: Viking Books
Publishing Date: July 10, 2012
Paperback: 592 pages
Rating: 5 Stars
Deborah Harkness exploded onto the literary scene with her debut novel, A Discovery of Witches, Book One of the magical All Souls Trilogy and an international publishing phenomenon. The novel introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and the handsome geneticist and vampire Matthew Clairmont; together they found themselves at the center of a supernatural battle over an enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782.
Now, picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh. Here, Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens.
In the first book of the All Soul’s Trilogy, A Discovery of Witches, Deborah Harkess introduces us to Diane Bishop, historian and witch, Matthew Clairmont, scientist and vampire, and the mysterious, bespelled manuscript known as Ashmole 782 which Diana accidentally calls from the library archives. In this first novel, we watched the romance grow between Diana and Matthew, a romance which is forbidden by a centuries-old covenant; and we saw the growing contingent of creatures, including demons, vampires and witches, who will work together, if necessary, for force Diana to reclaim the manuscript from the archives. As the danger to Diana grows, Matthew and Diana devise a plan to thwart those who want to use Ashmole 782 for darker purposes.
Shadow of Night is the exhilarating continuation of the All Souls trilogy, and we follow Matthew and Diana in their endeavor to discover the secrets of Ashmole 782. Their plan is simple: Timewalk back to 1591; find Ashmole 782 before it becomes bespelled; and find Diana a tutor to help her control her magic. In and out. No problems. Hmmm. Sadly, Matthew and Diana have laid out the plans to achieve their goals without working out the small details of time travel.
Matthew, being a 1,500 year old vampire, is welcomed back by his friends at the Old Lodge and quickly acclimates to his past life, but our modern day heroine sticks out like the only warmblood at the a vampire ball. It is not just her modern day feminist views, or being an educated woman or speaking her mind. Everything about Diana stands out and screams, “I’m not from around here,” from her mannerisms to her accent and speech patterns. She will need more than just new clothes in order to move around Elizabethan England.
More importantly, the dangers to Matthew and Diana don’t decrease by leaving their own time period but simply, the names of their enemies change. Their relationship is no more acceptable in 1591 as it was in 2010. The covenant still exists against the fraternizing of creatures and a vampire and witch going about Town together draws unwanted eyes. With every creature in 1591 London whispering about the strange witch with Matthew de Clarmont, it won’t be long before the Congregation locates them. It is not just the Congregation that will be seeking them out, the witches have felt the arrival of the latent power that Diana holds within her, and the vampires and demons are watching too. Matthew and Diana are quickly accumulating some powerful enemies in the past.
They have also miscalculated the fact that in 1591 witch trials in Scotland are increasing and with more and more witches being persecuted and burned at the stake, the witches throughout Europe are increasingly fearful of openly discussing their magic and are not only weary of Diana who is a stranger with powerful magic, but of Matthew, who is a dangerous and powerful vampire in this time period. It quickly becomes clear to them that their plan to find a witch to help teach Diana to control her magic will not be so simple a feat to accomplish.
Finally, it is not just those outside of their lives that a cause for concern. When you are a 1,500 year old vampire, there are many secrets that you believe you have left buried in the past and taking a trip to that past brings them all to life for your new wife.
What an incredible continuation of the story! We meet some interesting new characters (both heroes and villains) in this story, most of whom we will need to leave behind in the past (but not all!). But it does make me realize I might not be so interested in a brooding, sexy vampire boyfriend full of centuries of secrets after all, although we do come to understand Matthew a lot better, including his brooding and what’s behind his apparent mood-swings. Matthew and Diana do work through their issues and form a true and strong bond by the end of the story.
If you haven’t read A Discovery of Witches, I don’t recommend you try and jump in here. But don’t be intimidated by the almost 600 pages. It was a quick read and such an intriguing story that you will catch up quickly.
By the way Ms. Harkness, the people over at Viking said it was okay for you to call me to talk about your outline for the final novel. Really!! I swear!! They said, “Of course, we have no problem with her telling you what’s going to happen next.” …or something like that. It might have been “No way in Hell!”, but you know how cell phones break up. So we’ll just go with they’re okay with it. So if you could just let me know what’s gonna happen–or Hey, let’s just save you some time, I know you are busy, you know you can just shoot me an e-mail with a rough draft of the next book. That would be fine. I don’t think they’d have a problem with that. I’m sure of it.
(BOO!!!! I HATE WAITING!!)
Received ARC from Viking Books. Thank you.
See our review of A Discovery of Witches
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Thank you to Viking Books for the giveaway
“It’s not easy for vampires to live among warmbloods, Diana. Without an emotional bond, warmbloods are nothing more than a source of nourishment. No vampire, however civilized and well mannered, can remain in close proximity to one without feeling the urge to feed on them.” His breath was cool against my neck, tickling the sensitive spot where Miriam had used her blood to heal the wound Matthew had made there.
“You don’t seem to want to feed on me.” There had been no indication that Matthew wrestled with such an urge, and he had flatly refused his father’s suggestions that he take my blood.
“I can manage my cravings far better than when we first met. Now my desire for your blood is not so much about nourishment as control. To feed from you would primarily be an assertion of dominance now that we’re mated.”
“And we have sex for that,” I said matter-of-factly. Matthew was a generous and creative lover, but he definitely considered the bedroom his domain.
“Excuse me?” he said, his eyebrows drawn in a scowl.
“Sex and dominance. It’s what modern humans think vampire relationships are all about,” I said. “Their stories are full of crazed alpha-male vampires throwing women over their shoulders before dragging them off for dinner and a date.”
“Dinner and a date?” Matthew was aghast. “Do you mean…?”
“Uh-huh. You should see what Sarah’s friends in the Madison coven read. Vampire meets girl, girl is shocked to find out there really are vampires. The sex, blood, and overprotective behavior all come quickly thereafter. Some of it is pretty explicit.” I paused. “There’s no time for bundling, that’s for sure. I don’t remember much poetry or dancing either.”
Matthew swore. “No wonder your aunt wanted to know if I was hungry.”
“You really should read this stuff, if only to see what humans think. It’s a public-relations nightmare. Far worse than what witches have to overcome.” I turned around to face him. “You’d be surprised how many women seem to want a vampire boyfriend anyway, though.”
“What if their vampire boyfriends were to behave like callous bastards in the street and threaten starving orphans?”
“Most fictional vampires have hearts of gold, barring the occasional jealous rage and consequent dismemberment.” I smoothed the hair away from his eyes.
“I can’t believe we’re having this conversation,” Matthew said.
“Why? Vampires read books about witches. The fact that Kit’s Doctor Fautus is pure fantasy doesn’t stop you from enjoying a good supernatural yarn.”
“Yes, but all that manhandling and then making love…” Matthew shook his head.
“You’ve manhandled me, as you so charmingly put it. I seem to recall being hoisted into your arms at Sept-Tours on more than one occasion,” I pointed out.
“Only when you were injured!” Matthew said indignantly. “Or tired.”
“Or when you wanted me in one spot and I was in another. Or when the horse was too tall, or the bed was too high, or the seas were too rough. Honestly, Matthew. You have a selective memory when it suits you. As for making love, it’s not always the tender act that you describe. Not in the books I’ve seen. Sometimes it’s just a good, hard—”
Before I could finish my sentence, a tall, handsome vampire flung me over his shoulder.
“We will continue this conversation in private.”
“Help! I think my husband is a vampire!” I laughed and pounded on the backs of his thighs.
“Be quiet,” he growled. “Or you’ll have Mistress Hawley to contend with.”
“If I were a human woman and not a witch, that growly sound you just made would make me swoon. I’d be all yours, and you could have your way with me.” I giggled.
“You’re already all mine,” Matthew reminded me, depositing me on the bed. “I’m changing this ridiculous plot, by the way. In the interests of originality—not to mention verisimilitude—we’re skipping dinner and moving right on to the date.”
ORDER A COPY: A Discovery of Witches: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy)
Publishing Date: February 8, 2011
Paperback: 578 pages
Rating: 5 stars
A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.
Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.
Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.
Dr. Diana Bishop is a historian, and she is currently doing research at Oxford University’s Bodleian Library on the history of alchemy. Diana is also the daughter of a witch, and a sorcerer, but she has no desire to practice witchcraft. She wants to earn her successes or failures in her academic career without the use of magic. While she is reviewing old manuscripts, she is given an odd manuscript. All of the alchemy pictures are slightly wrong, but that is not the only oddity. It is locked with a spell and when she finally opens it, she can see that the pages shimmer with hidden words like someone erased the pages and drew the new pictures over them. Diana has no interest in this bewitched book and sends it back to storage. Then she starts to notice all of the other creatures who have started to hang around the library; witches, demons and vampires are all watching her and waiting for her to recall that manuscript. Most particularly, one gorgeous vampire named Matthew Clairmont who is not only watching her, but has taken up the duty as her personal protector.
Unknown to her, Diana has located and opened the missing Ashmole 728 manuscript. No one is sure what is hidden within this hidden manuscript. Some think it is the secret to turn iron to gold. Some think it is the origins of the creatures. Some think it is an outline of how to destroy the vampires. They just know they all want to get their hands on it. Suddenly Diana is in grave danger, not just from the vampires and demons, but from the witches as well. They try to force Diana to retrieve the book, but she didn’t call for it in the first place and she doesn’t know how to retrieve it again.
In an attempt to protect her, Matthew takes her back to his mother’s castle in France to hide out, but everything gets more complicated when Diana and Matthew start to fall in love. The Commission makes sure that witches stay with witches, vampires with vampires. A covenant was agreed to centuries ago that creatures would stick with their own kind; and The Commission is not very happy that a vampire and witch are hiding out together, let alone getting romantically involved.
Diana quickly learns that getting involved with a century old vampire involves secrets, LOTS of secrets, and every time she thinks she knows Matthew, she is hit with more facts about her vampire that she does not know how to handle.
As if their lives aren’t complicated enough, they finally figure out that Diana’s parents have spellbound her so that no one could force her magic, not even Diana. Suddenly Diana is coming into her magic, but she can’t control it or call up anything on command.
Now Diana and Matthew need to group together all their allies because they are fighting too many enemies who are coming from too many directions, and the creatures on now on the verge of war over the manuscript and over their mixed relationship.
I was offered an opportunity to review Shadow of Night, book 2 of the All Souls trilogy, but when I read that it began with Diana and Matthew’s Timewalk, I knew I would be lost if I tried to start with book 2. I was overwhelmed with the idea of trying to fit another 588 page book into my already overburdened TBR list, but it moved so fast, I was able to tackle in it only 2 days…alright 2 ½ days.
Admittedly, when we move from London to Matthew’s ancestral home in France, it was suddenly like the book switched to a historical romance since they were living in a castle and spent a lot of time riding horses and Matthew started getting very bossy and Diana got very submissive. I was a bit annoyed by this change of characters. I could understand that vampires might be a little bit territorial due to their predatory nature and they would also be controlling due to age and surviving from a time when women had no place except to bear children and care for the home, but it was annoying nonetheless; and I was disappointed that Diana, a well educated woman with a doctorate, who teaches at Oxford, only stood up for herself on occasion, other than that, she let Matthew tell her what to do.
Other than my frustration with pushy, know it all vampires, I truly enjoyed the story and the characters involved, and I finally understand the excitement over the story and the upcoming release of book 2, which I am thoroughly enjoying.
Anyone who has read paperback bestsellers or even watched television knows that vampires are breathtaking, but nothing prepares you to actually see one. Their bone structures are so well honed that they seem chiseled by an expert sculptor. Then they move, or speak, and your mind can’t begin to absorb what you’re seeing. Every movement is graceful; every word is musical. And their eyes are arresting, which is precisely how they catch their prey. One long look, a few quiet words, a touch: once you’re caught in a vampire’s snare you don’t stand a chance.
Staring down at this vampire, I realized with a sinking feeling that my knowledge on the subject was, alas, largely theoretical. Little of it seemed useful now that I was facing one in the Bodleian Library.
This one was tall—well over six feet even accounting for the problems of perspective associated with looking down on him from the gallery. And he definitely was not slight. Broad shoulders narrowed into slender hips, which flowed into lean, muscular legs. His hands were strikingly long and agile, a mark of physiological delicacy that made your eyes drift back to them to figure out how they could belong to such a large man.
As my eyes swept over him, his own were fixed on me. From across the room, they seemed black as night, staring up under thick, equally black eyebrows, one of them lifted in a curve that suggested a question mark. His face was indeed striking—all distinct planes and surfaces, with high-angled cheekbones meeting brows that shielded and shadowed his eyes. Above his chin was one of the few places where there was room for softness—his wide mouth, which, like his long hands, didn’t seem to make sense.
But the most unnerving thing about him was not his physical perfection. It was his feral combination of strength, agility, and keen intelligence that was palpable across the room. In his black trousers and soft gray sweater, with a shock of back hair swept back from his forehead and cropped close to the nape of his neck, he looked like a panther that could strike at any moment but was in no rush to do so.
He smiled. It was a small, polite smile that didn’t reveal his teeth. I was intensely aware of them anyway, sitting in perfectly straight, sharp rows behind his pale lips.
The mere thought of teeth sent an instinctive rush of adrenaline through my body, setting my fingers tingling. Suddenly all I could think was, Get out of this room NOW.
The staircase seemed farther away than the four steps it took to reach it. I raced down to the floor below, stumbled on the last step, and pitched straight into the vampire’s waiting arms.