Picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night takes Diana and Matthew on a trip through time to Elizabethan London, where they are plunged into a world of spies, magic, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the School of Night. As the search for Ashmole 782 deepens and Diana seeks out a witch to tutor her in magic, the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them, and they embark on a very different—and vastly more dangerous—journey.
Title: Shadow of Night
Author: Deborah Harkness
SPOILER ALERT: Second in a series so there will be spoilers for the first book.
TW: Miscarriage, abusive relationships, violence, etc. Check out the book online before you read it if you’re worried about anything similar to these.
So… *breathes* OH. MY. GOD.
How much sexism can one book hold?!
It took at least 100 pages of this book for Diana to do… pretty much anything. Before this the book is just a barrage of sexist comments and snide remarks towards her and Matthew slowly morphing further into the brooding thoughtless man he apparently was in the past (and also the future if we’re being honest). It was kind of dull and I genuinely thought about just putting this book down.
They’re in the past trying to help with Diana’s magic while safely away from the council members who would happily kill Diana in the future. Given that this was their reason for going, they certainly don’t prioritise it. They never mentioned how long they were planning on going back for, how they were going to fit back in to Matthew’s life in the past, or if they even should have tried to!
Messing with the past is always a dangerous business in any book or tv show or film, so I don’t really see why two intelligent characters would completely forget any semblance of a plan. They thought Matthew appearing in the past with a wife and parading her around his old friends would have no effect?
And Matthew. Just… Matthew. *sigh*
If you ever meet a Matthew in your own life, please do yourself the biggest of favours and run in the opposite direction.
Here’s a summary of Matthew:
He bit Diana to prove a point that she shouldn’t have ‘allowed’ someone to talk to her in the streets. He blames her for things that aren’t her fault, physically hurts her, and abandons her for many hours a day and then returns just to blame her for moving an inch away from where he left her.
He can’t handle Diana not telling him EVERYTHING she does or who she talks to, so much so that he was scarily angry until she allowed him to effectively read her mind. (Seems very much the same as when an abusive guy berates his partner until she shows him all her texts and emails. Then he’s kind for a short period of time so that the woman is tricked into thinking everything is fine and the cycle starts again. Seriously, scary.)
This is very much a manipulative if not abusive relationship.
Oh, and if you thought Matthew was justified for killing Gillian Chamberlain in the previous book for sending photos to Diana, then you’ll want to obliterate Kit Marlowe in this book.
He purposely puts Diana in life threatening situations again and again out of spite. This makes Matthews motivations even less understandable – what threat to your wife is worth killing for? How far does someone have to go before they’re on your hit list? The grading scale is very arbitrary.
So I could go on for ages about the sexism and abusive relationship in this book, but I think you get the picture.
I’ll end this with a few things I actually really liked!
Phillipe and Gallowglass were some of my favourite characters. They were more thoughtful, more respectful, and generally better people than a lot of the others. I’m very much on the dump-Matthew-and-marry-Gallowglass team, though I know it has about as much chance of happening as Matthew actually apologising so I won’t hold out hope.
The manuscript hunt, though kind of ignored for a lot of the book, was also fun. Lots of twists and turns and finding out some pretty big bombshells about the manuscript pages. Very entertaining.
Also, I really hope Diana, now she’s learned more about her magic and has more of a backbone, actually starts to stand up for herself more in future books and FINALLY puts Matthew in his place. It’s only taken me two books to get this far… but I haven’t given up hope yet!
Bring on the next book: more Matthew bashing, rolling of the eyes, and hopefully more of Diana being awesome to come!