by Deborah Harkness, 584 pages
This is the sequel to A Discovery of Witches, which appeared on bestseller lists last year. The first volume begins when Diana Bishop, a history scholar and a witch, discovers a magical alchemical manuscript in Oxford's Bodelian Library (seen above). At first the book frightens her, awakening powers that she did not wish to possess. When she returns the book to the reference desk, it disappears into the bowels of the venerable library. But other creatures (vampires, demons and other witches) are all after the book known as Ashmol 782. For her own protection, Diana is forced into a partnership with handsome and brilliant geneticist Matthew deClairmont, who also happens to be a long-lived vampire (though not one who presently feeds on humans.)
This 2nd book takes up where the first one ended, with the pair's arrival in Elizabethan England. Diana and Matthew are still looking for the mysterious book, and also trying to find someone to teach Diana how to use her newly acquired powers. They are outlaws as well, since their relationship is forbidden by a covenant of The Congregation, which is kind of like a paranomal Spanish Inquistion. They travel all over Europe and meet all sorts of famous people of the age, some helpful, others lethal. Though there is some mention in the beginning of Diana's outlandish American accent, she doesn't seem to have much problem adapting to the Elizabethan age. It helps that she's a historian, and she does have Matthew to clue her in since he's been there before.
I had a little bit of a problem with the "timey-wimey wibbly wobbly" stuff. I thought it should prove more of a handicap for Diana than it seems, and everybody is just a little too overwhelmed or charmed by Diana except for the dangerous and jealous demon known as Kit Marlowe. The book also glossed over the problem of travel in 1591. Maybe since the deClairmonts are so rich and powerful, they could jaunt from one country to another without much difficulty. All that nit-picking aside, the story does move along at a fast clip for such a long book. It ends with a lot of loose threads waiting to be knotted tidily up in the third book. If you liked Discovery of Witches, you will probably like Shadow of Night. If you found Discovery a bit too much like Twilight, then you might find the same issue with Shadow.