Deborah Harkness, Shadow of Night (2012)
Oops, I did it again! I’m sorry I couldn’t resist (the book, and the Britney Spears’ pun). That’s all Covid’s fault I’m sure. The virus and the accumulation of bad news made me do it. After A Discovery of Witches, I couldn’t stop there. I had bought the trilogy on Kindle (an economic choice, as the trilogy was hardly more expensive than the first book), so I had to continue.
What is any good? I certainly can’t pretend to be objective. Well, for the people who enjoyed the first tome, it was a lot more of the same with a change of scenery. For people who found the first tome ridiculous, I don’t think the second will have any redeeming value. Witch Diana and her vampire lover Matthew have chosen to travel back in time at the end of the first volume, hoping to discover more about the coveted manuscript of Ashmole 782, and to escape their enemies. And so they arrive in… 1590, where Matthew used to have lots of friends like Christopher Marlowe, Henri Raileigh, Shakespeare etc. They spend time observing their surroundings with a lot of name dropping and details about clothes and food, like in the first volume, and then lots of shenanigans occur. Not very logical, nor very plausible shenanigans, but enough to keep turning the pages.
I’m all for a change of scenery. I don’t have witches and vampires on my heels, I just have a global pandemic and a very likely third national lock-down. So at this stage I have nothing against Elizabethan England, and lots of details about food and clothes. I readily confess that this is not a highly intellectual motivation nor a very challenging read, but this book is pure fantasy and escapism, and in that respect, it delivers.
Thank goodness there is yet another volume in the trilogy! I will probably start it if/when the government orders the third lock-down. I hope that will be the last lock-down before vaccine, because no more Diana / Matthew frolics after the next book!