Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness is the second in the All Souls Trilogy, and if you did not read A Discovery of Witches you must stop reading this right now, buy a copy, and read it. This book will make no sense to you if you haven't read the first book.
With that being said, I did throughly enjoy this book. As I did in reading A Discovery of Witches, it took me about 100 pages before I was in the swing of things and completely immersed in the continuing story of Diana and Matthew. I was a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of new characters and Elizabethan London at the beginning. My head was spinning a bit, but I slowed down and regrouped. The author's knowledge of Elizabethan London is very evident, and makes this a special part of the book. I felt as bewildered as Diana for a bit, until she stops thinking like a historian, and instead starts living in London like a resident. The clothes, the smells, the customs are all part of what makes this story line very entertaining. I have few criticisms of this book, but I did feel that some of the scenes could have been shortened a bit. It was very helpful to have the names and relations of all the characters in every part of the novel included at the end of the book. It helped keep everyone straight in my head. I could quickly thumb through and refresh my memory.
Without giving too much away, I will say I love love loved the continuing evolution of Diana and Matthew's relationship. As we all know, you can love someone but not really know someone until you spend heaps of time with them; sometimes under very trying circumstances. What I liked so much about their relationship in A Discovery of Witches was the "adultness" of it all. The recognition of knowing that person is the one; the absolute belief that you have met that person who makes your world. Quiet, unshakable strength. That continues in Shadow of Night. Diana and Matthew find out so much more about each other--and Diana's got a bit more of Matthew to deal with--one a bit different than the 21st century scientist she meets at Oxford. She's got another Matthew--one who's comfortable in 1591 England--with all its customs, political shenanigans, and dangerous deceptions. Can they keep themselves out of trouble in 1591 England, and find their way home again?
I would love to tell you more, but that would be spoiling the story. I will say Diana finds out much more about her witch background and it was one of my favorite elements of the story. I was surprised (but really, should I be?) at how darn clever Deborah Harkness is in weaving such a fantastic world! It will be a very long time to wait for the third book.
Suffice it to say, I am pretty certain fans of A Discovery of Witches will not be disappointed. If you are someone who read it awhile ago, I would say re-read it before diving into this novel, which has a US release date of July 10th. It will help you navigate through Shadow of Night. If you're like me, and you don't re-read books, don't hesitate to jump in--you will quickly find yourself remembering events and people from the first novel and settling in for great read! Thank you to Net Galley and Penguin for providing me with an e-book galley and a bound galley. And yes, I will buy the hardcover to keep on my bookshelf alongside A Discovery of Witches.