Thursday, September 27, 2012

What a Long, Strange Trip it's Been

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 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.


  1. Oh Carol, I couldn't agree with you more. I was bored to tears with the whole thing. And I enjoy that era of history as well, but it was so slow-moving and the characters were just not interesting to me. I have to admit, I put the thing down at around 80% and never picked it back up - I'm kind of pissed it cost so much to download that book and I couldn't even find it within myself to finish the damn thing. Oh well, c'est la vie.

  2. I kind of have to agree with you - it was ok but I ended up having to reread the first book to remember why I wanted to read the second book in the first place! Hopefully the 3rd book will be more interesting and bring back the Diana and Matthew we enjoyed from the first book!

    1. Absolutely. Hoping DH gets back to Diana and Matthew in Book 3. The REAL Diana and Matthew!!!

  3. hey carol and fellow all have hit the coffin nails on the head! yet, there's still hope that book 3 will bring back the characters (living, dead, inanimate (the aunts' house--missed you so much--that made DOW so fabulous and interesting) also, how could DH kick off one of the aunts!...unless she's coming back as a vampire...hmmmm, DH didn't delve much into the aunt's demise (or else I was dozing during that section). i'm ever optimistic that book 3 will go back to the dynamics of the original story. julie in jersey

    1. LOL "Pick off". How did I miss these comments? This is tremendous! LOVE the vamp idea!

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