SPOILER ALERT: I have finished "Shadow of Night".
Thank the Lord and all the saints. I feel like I've been on a roller coaster for weeks...one that was fierce...then got stuck for days...then started moving again and grew rather fast-paced...only to peter out and come to a complete stop. And it even started to roll backward again, but luckily it stopped long enough for me to jump off and head back toward the merry go round where I belong.
I have never been negative about a book/series I've blogged about before...but this time around, I can't hide my disdain.
Let me get one thing straight: I think Deborah Harkness is a fantastic writer and historian. I think she's immensely talented and deserves many accolades for her work.
So why, then, didn't I like Shadow of Night? Easy: I don't care for the bait-and-switch.
A Discovery of Purgatory was an exciting, character driven historical fiction that moved along at a great pace and kept you on the edge of your seat.
Shadow of Night was more like a historical review of Elizabethan England with some story about a witch and a vampire thrown in. And I keep asking myself "Why?" Why bother with Matthew and Diana if you are going to alter their personalities so much? I was excited to read the sequel to a book about a dark-yet-dashing vampire who could charm the pants off you one minute, only to scare the crap out of you the next...all the while being a surprisingly decent and caring soul. And the Diana I remember was an intelligent, tough cookie of an alchemist who rowed daily and wasn't the best dresser on the planet because she didn't have time to worry about something as insignificant as clothing. What transpired in Shadow of Night was a pretty boring vampire who was completely pompous and self-centered and a woman who mused incessantly about her 16th century clothing and her witchy strings.
Shadow of Night is a well-written journey through Elizabethan England. Hell - there could easily be a college course based on the book. But for those of us who love Matthew and Diana, it was a real head-scratcher. I felt jipped from the lack of intimacy between these two characters. Half the time they didn't even like each other and when they did finally make it into the bed chamber, it was pretty much a bust.
Now - before you accuse me of wanting a "bodice ripper" or not liking Elizabethan England, let me tell you, you are dead wrong. I am not a "bodice ripper" type of reader...made evident by the fact that I still maintain that Twilight - that young adult book with zero sex - is one of the best love stories I've read in years. I have never read a Harlequin and don't plan to start now. And as for my knowledge of Tudors, I have stood and cried at the site of Anne Boleyn's execution at the Tower of London and have gone through more than my fair share of obsessions with Elizabeth. Elizabeth 1: CEO by Alan Axelrod is a fantastic read, especially if you are in any type of managerial role at work, etc. I learned so much from Elizabeth's "job" as Queen of England and was able to parlay some of what I read into modern day skills as the head of a corporate department. (That was way back when, before my kids came along and I assumed the role of Head Chef, Chauffeur, and General Supervisor here at home.)
Bottom line - hardcore Deborah Harkness fans will want to read Shadow of Night. I just don't know how they'll feel when they're finished. I literally grieved Matthew Clairmont after I read the book...because I feel like the wonderful character I met in A Discovery of Witches is long gone.