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Off the shelf @ your local library - Shadow of Night


By Kathy Pillatzki
Assistant Director
Henry County Library System

  If youíre looking for a book review, itís your lucky day! My plan was to review Shadow of Night, the second installment in the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness, I reviewed the first in the series, A Discovery of Witches, and was eagerly looking forward to the sequel. However, while reading it I was reminded strongly of another title I read recently, so I decided on a package deal Ötoday only, two reviews for the price of one!

  First, Shadow of Night. Before I go any further, let me say that this book is for those who have read the first in the series. The author makes no concession to the reader who skipped A Discovery of Witches. There are no reviews, no recaps, no reference points whatsoever. In fact, page one of Shadow of Night reads exactly as if Harkness turned the page from the end of the previous book and continued her train of thought. It literally picks up at the exact moment the last one ended.

  Those who read A Discovery of Witches will be enchanted with developments in this volume of the story of forbidden love between a witch and a vampire. Historian and witch Diana and geneticist/vampire Matthew time travel to 1590 England to find a skilled witch who can help Diana harness her newfound magic, and to search for an ancient manuscript that may unlock the secret of her powers.

  They are helped, and sometimes hindered, by what seems like a cast of thousands. If the book has a weakness, itís that there are so many characters itís hard to remember whoís who from one chapter to the next. But one of the more fascinating elements of the story is that quite a few of those characters are real historical figures Ė Christopher Marlowe, Sir Walter Raleigh and William Shakespeare Ė who come into the story in a variety of creative ways.

  If youíre tired of the whole witch and vampire craze, this story may not be for you. But the authorís real skill is the seamless way in which she blends historical fact with fantasy fiction. This trilogy is what the Twilight series would have been if Stephenie Meyer had an encyclopedic knowledge of art, literature, history, mythology, and folklore - and a huge vocabulary. Itís Twilight for grown-ups.

  Speaking of teen literature, though, reminds me of the second book in this special deal. If you enjoyed the Twilight series, but are ready to move on to something more challenging yet not as daunting as an epic like the All Souls trilogy, I highly recommend Once A Witch by Carolyn MacCullough.

  In a familiar plot, Tamsin has grown up in a family of powerful witches as the odd man out: prophesied to be the most powerful of them all, birthday after birthday passes with no sign of any magical skills at all. When a stranger asks the teen for help finding a lost object containing ancient magic, she begins to discover abilities she never knew she had. This is a fun but well-crafted urban fantasy. If you enjoy it, you can move on to the sequel, titled - what else? - Always a Witch.



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