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review 2020-02-16 00:56
"Shadow Of Night - All Souls Trilogy #2" by Deborah Harkness
Shadow of Night - Deborah Harkness

A low-key, gently entertaining read with an uneven pace and very little tension.

 

 

"Shadow Of Night" was a slightly disappointing book that I'm hoping will make excellent television (my DVD copy of "A Discovery Of Witches Season 2" arrives next month).

 

It starts immediately where the cliff-hanger ending of "A Discovery Of Witches" left off and immediately looses all of the tension, urgency and sense of threat that the first book had built up.

 

Diana and Matthew have walked back in time to the late sixteenth century to avoid the wrath of the Congregation, find Ashmole 782 (the magic manuscript on alchemy that caused all the aggravation in the first book) and find a witch to teach Diana how to use her newly unbound powers. To me, this sounded like the premise for a fast-paced quest, full of tension and threat. It turned out to be the basis for a fairly leisurely meander through Elizabethan London (meeting absolutely everyone you've ever heard of from that time), a trip back to Sept-Tours in France to meet Matthew's father and a visit to the court of Rudolf II, the Holy Roman Emperor, in Prague. 

 

The historical details were interesting and well presented. They were also a little overwhelming. I felt, at times, that I was reading a "Lonely Planet* tourist guide to sixteenth-century London and Prague. It was often a fascinating guided tour but one that took attention away from why Diana and Matthew were there. The Congregation, although often invoked as a threat, never became one. The search for the book and for a witch to train Diana lost focus as time was spent watching Diana and Matthew go native.

 

There were moments of tension, mainly when Diana was having to deal with direct physical threats but these moments took up very little of the twenty-four hours I spent listening to this book.

 

I liked the scenes in Sept-Tour, which built my picture of Matthew's history and were filled with interesting lore and one of the better scenes of physical threat against Diana.

 

Diana's interaction with the witches teaching her was well done, both in terms of the ideas on how magic worked and the way in which the women worked together.

 

I didn't like how passive Diana was until almost that last third of the book. She's a successful female academic who has carved a niche for herself in a male-dominated world. We kept being told that she's an exceptionally talented witch, albeit one whose powers have been hidden until recently. In the last book, she killed a vampire and defied powerful witches. Yet, once she walked back five centuries, she seemed to have lost all agency. 

 

I get that part of that was her adjusting to being in a time where she lacks basic competency while her husband is in familiar territory and being constantly surrounded by absurdly testosterone-charged predatory males but even so, she seemed a bit too soft to survive. She never completely surrenders herself to the will of the men around her but she reacts. she doesn't plan and she doesn't push. She certainly doesn't stay focused on her goals for being in the past. I found this quite frustrating.

 

In the final part of the book, she finally realises that Matthew's temper and easily-triggered violence are no substitute for a plan. She starts to take charge and to collaborate with other women to achieve her goals.

 

I also found myself being irritated by the unconscious privilege that Diana exhibits and her Lady Bountiful way of dabbling with rescuing people from poverty and ignorance, only to abandon them when it comes time to leave. I also became increasingly aware of how centuries of brutally used power and wealth combined with a we-know-best approach to all problems have resulted in the De Clairmonts and Matthew in particular, being widely hated. I began to hate them more than a little myself. This made it hard for me to see why, no matter how many terrible things Diana found out about Matthew, she remained so besotted with him.

 

Overall, I found this to be a low-key, gently entertaining read with an uneven pace and very little tension.

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text 2020-02-10 17:42
Reading progress update: I've read 33%. leisurely pace and a surprisingly passive heroine
Shadow of Night - Deborah Harkness

This tootles along, doing some world-building, first in Elizabethan England and then back in France. The historical details are interesting and well presented. The pace is quite leisurely but not boring.

 

My only hesitation is with our heroine, Diana. She's a successful female academic who has carved a niche for herself in a male-dominated world. We keep being told that she's an exceptionally talented witch, albeit one whose powers have been hidden until recently. In the last book, she killed a vampire and defied powerful witches. And yet, now that she's walked back five centuries, she seems remarkably passive. 

 

I'm making allowances for her adjusting to new circumstances and being the presence of absurdly testosterone-charged predatory males but even so, she seems a bit too soft to survive.

 

Of course, on the one occasion that she is in real danger, her reaction is swift and lethal but she only seems to react. She doesn't plan and she doesn't push. Maybe that's who she is but it sure does take the edge off the tension.

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review 2020-01-02 00:38
A Discovery of Witches
A Discovery of Witches - Deborah Harkness

I absolutely loved this book. It is a 3 part series i am half way through the second one. 

The Discovery of Witches is about a young woman who is a alchemist who is also a witch, she does not like to use her powers or really learn more about what she is cabal of. She gets retrieves a book from the library that is very powerful, it is thought to be the answers to all the creatures beginnings and how they were made.

 

Once she pulls the books off the shelf she feels it power and tries to read it but struggles because of the spell that is on it. she then meets this very handsome vampire that has been stalking her for a few days. She ends up trusting the vampire Matthew, even though that goes against the Congressional. The aunts that raised her were very upset when they found out because vampires DO NOT mix. Matthew ends up helping through out the book to figure out the true potential of her power and to also help her re-call the famous book. 

 

i mostly loved this book so much because it really lets you get close characters and really relate to the story. this book was so amazingly written and beautiful. one of my favorite love/ hate relationships. 

 

i hope you guys enjoy 

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review 2019-10-28 15:37
I Feel Guilt Over the Two Stars Rating
A Discovery of Witches - Deborah Harkness

I loved this book when it first came out and I have to say that my re-read of this was painful. Why did I like this so much? Did I not see that Matthew was uber possessive which is my least favorite hero trait? The constant endearments in French may me roll my eyes. Also the Mary Sueness of Diana was beyond ridiculous. She gets powers on top of powers and also decides that the only thing that matters is her love for Matthew. She started to turn me off way before we get to the ending. And the way that Harkness just drops how pretty much Matthew met every historical figure you can think of in this one (it gets worse in book #2) it started to get even more ridiculous. There are info dumps galore and besides some of the historical aspects of this book, this is just "Twilight" for adults with no sparkly vampires. 

 

"A Discovery of Witches" follows Diana Bishop. Diana is living in England and while at Oxford, ends up requesting a book, but a book that comes to her is a bewitched alchemical manuscript. When Diana touches the book something starts happening to her. After this, a vampire comes calling named Matthew Clairmont, who is a a vampire geneticist. Yes, this is a real thing I guess. In this world we have vampires, witches, and daemons just hanging out. Matthew is interested in the book since there seems to be some issue with vampires not being able to turn people without the person being turned dying.

 

I will say something nice here. The parts with Diana and Matthew in Oxford were really good. I forgot how much I loved that part. And it reminds me a bit of how Pullman played/changed up things in "His Dark Materials" when we follow Lyra at Oxford. But after that the book just drops down to repetitive and boring.

 

Diana and Matthew are quickly on the run from a magical organization and are in France and then Massachusetts hiding out (barely) with their families. I just didn't care about Diana's parents secret, or her magic. The whole book was pretty much Diana and Matthew constantly reaffirming their love and then them obsessing when one of them wasn't in the same room with each other. Also why are these two together? I didn't get deep and lasting love at all initially and then somehow they were just in thrall with each other. I just don't know. There's no there there. Diana somehow becoming super witch made me think about Katrina from Sleepy Hollow and how she was seriously the worse witch ever. Oh there's also vampire yoga which I never want to read about again. 

 

Image result for sleepy hollow gif katrina

 

I can't say much about the other characters. We get glimpses of them and that makes me sad. When I first read this, I loved the idea behind Matthew's "mother," "son," etc. And this book only makes them characters who give info-dumps throughout this book. I really wanted someone to shake both Matthew and Diana and tell them to get over themselves. 

 

The writing started off well, but then it just tapers off slowly until we get to the end where I was going is it over yet? No? Another freaking chapter? I forgot how long this book is (594 pages) and it really really needed edited down. A lot. And don't get me started on the whole hey species can't really be with each other sexually and have kids which someone got overly explained via DNA, chemistry, and then alchemy which resulted in me not giving one crap. That was pretty much the whole book. We get told something via a character and then somehow the rules get thrown out five minutes later (see vampires and witches can't marry). It got aggravating after a while. Also there's like I think three secret organizations referenced in this damn book. I could not after a while. 

 

The flow was awful after a while. It's just Matthew and Diana running off, her getting kidnapped, hurt, healing, Matthew calling her a lion or whatever that was, and then Diana and Matthew listening as people told them well now this is happening and or now this is what this means while drinking tea. 

 

The setting of the book from Oxford, France, Massachusetts just started to run together after a while. The Bishop family house and ghosts were cool though. That's all I got.

 

The ending ends on a cliffhanger (which I hate) and we know we have to follow the second book to see what happens next. 

 

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text 2019-10-24 19:58
Reading progress update: I've read 1%.
A Discovery of Witches - Deborah Harkness

Well thank goodness for the book lists we have! Cause I have never been that not happy while reading a book. Well not since reading 50 Shades of Grey. Either way, I am switching for this. Thank goodness I bought this eons ago and am going to read it for vampires. Seriously though guys, my head hurts from "They Thirst."

 

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