Ik had gehoopt dit boek nog op de valreep van 2013 uit te lezen en te recenseren, maar een oudjaar-kledingcrisis heeft daar anders over beslist :p Niet erg, ik heb vanochtend (1 januari) erg genoten van mijn rustige wakker word-momentje met de laatste 30 pagina’s van Shadow of Night. Hierbij de recensie!
Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
The first line in Shadow of Night immediately made me smile, nourishing the extremely high expectations I had after being 100% awestruck by the first part of the All Souls-trilogy, A Discovery of Witches. Allow me to quote it to you [not really a SPOILER, but don’t read if you want to be surprised by the first line yourself]: “We arrived in an undignified heap of witch and vampire. Matthew was underneath me, his long limbs bent into an uncharacteristically awkward position.”
It’s cute, it’s honest, it’s disarming. I loved it. Unfortunately, the storyline of Shadow of Night – which is entirely set in Elizabethan England – lost my attention soon after that. The new setting was simply too crowded with new characters (all male, all being referred to with both their first name and their last at random) to truly call it an enjoyable read.
I found it confusing and tiring to try and keep up with The School of Night and I didn’t much care for the almost non-existent storyline as Raleigh, Marlowe and the others rambled on. This combined with having a lot of unfamiliar words thrown at you (I’m not a native English speaker, obviously) made me struggle through the first half of the book. It had its good moments, don’t get me wrong, but after the first 450 pages, I needed a break.
[SPOILERS START HERE]
At the end of 2013 I picked Shadow of Night up again, not wanting to leave it unfinished before 2014 began. To my delight, the second half of this hefty novel was much more entertaining! The School of Night finally stops monopolizing the conversation and at long last we can focus on the reason why Matthew and Diana are in the past to begin with. We discover new things about Diana’s magic as a weaver, learn about her unexpected (yet tooootally expected) pregnancy, meet her awesome firedrake and go “aww” and “ooh” when Matthew is being fatherly towards Jack.
In light of all this, I had not at all expected Diana to miscarriage, thinking of this magical ‘babe’ from the alchemic wedding between luna and sol as a creature-version of Jezus and not as a mere mortal fetus. The discovery of her blood-soaked sheets made me feel a very real pang of empathy for these unfortunately not real characters. Excellent writing, excellent story-telling.
Then we get a long-awaited glimpse of Ashmole 782 and Diana’s pregnant again and the story finally moves ahead and it’s all good, yay! Back in current times, the third part of the series (which I just learned will be called The Book of Life) will surely be more to my liking.
[SPOILERS END HERE]
In conclusion: even though the first half of Shadow of Night wasn’t as appealing as I had hoped and I was slightly disappointed at the fact that the entire novel was set in Elizabethan times, this is once more a 5 star-novel by Deborah Harkness. I cannot even begin to comprehend how difficult it must be to construct a novel like this. Diana and Matthew are one of my all-time favorite couples and I pray to the goddess herself that they may get a happy ending in the final book.
PS: If I had to rate the cover though, I’d only give it 1 star. That is one ugly cover you got there.(less)