Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Book Review: Shadow of Night and Book of Life

Note: I've got very minor spoilers in here. I'll call them out before you get there, but just be aware.

Shadow of Night and Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
I feel kind of bad writing this negative review because I've seen interviews with the author and she seems really fun and nice, someone I'd like to sit and have a glass of wine with. I should also note that my mother-in-law devoured these books and there is a huge cult following surrounding them, so I may be all alone in disliking the series. But these books, the second and third in the All Souls trilogy, are not for me. I cannot explain why I stuck with and finished them (I read the first book, A Discovery of Witches, over a year ago).

Plot: Diana, a modern witch who doesn't want to use her magic, meets and falls in love with Matthew, a 1500-year old vampire who is super handsome and rich and possessive and has anger issues. It's adult Twilight except the main character is a little less bump-on-a-log (but still pretty ridiculous). There's time travel, a lot of very over-wrought dialogue, and an insane number of near-death experiences. And there are a ton of historical references.

Thoughts: The historical references border on the ridiculous, really. Harkness is an admitted history nerd (and a history professor I think?). It felt like she was worried that she'd never get the opportunity to write another book, so she crammed EVERY.SINGLE. western European and a bunch of early American historical events and characters into these volumes. A lot of it takes place in England and France, which I really like. Maybe that's what kept me going.

Favorite part: [SPOILERS] Meh, I don't know. Maybe the part where Gallowglass tells Diana he loves her, even though that's kind of sad. Or the parts with Chris and Miriam; those are pretty cute.

Least favorite part: Anything involving Benjamin. Or the ridiculous part where she springs on her library colleague that she's a witch and is going to magick some of the priceless, ancient documents she's sorting through. Or any scene involving the awkward and stilted dialogue between Diana and Matthew.

My grade: C+ for Shadow of Night, C- for Book of Life

Who would I recommend it to
: Fans of witch / vampire fiction (Practical Magic, Twilight, things like that) who are also into modern European history, read fast (these books are long) and don't mind really overly dramatic writing. 

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