The second book from Deborah Harkness' pen is as action-filled as the first, A Discovery of Witches. Shadow of Night adds the excitement, danger, and intrigue of a trip back to the political upheaval and superstition of 16th century Europe. The details of adjusting to life then are entertaining, but over and over this book seems to bring up a crisis only to dismiss its importance a few chapters later.
Diana and Matt's marriage has its rocky moments, as any marriage does, but especially one which is up against the stresses theirs experiences. Their quest brings them to France to meet Matt's father--deceased in our time--and then on to London and Prague and back to London. Along the way, Diana meets Queen Elizabeth, and also witches who are able to help her with her own powers. After a few mishaps and misunderstandings and near misses.
While in Prague, they meet Emperor Ruldolf II, who, naturally, notices Diana's beauty and unusual height (for that time). She spends a deal of time avoiding imperial entanglements, eventually causing them to flee in the middle of the night. Their trip back in time seems to steal Diana's common sense occasionally, but often she wriggles out of problems by using her newfound powers. That makes for fun moments, sometimes hysterical ones. There are also horrible betrayals and the constant worry that the witch-hunting fever or royal rancor will turn on them.
Literary readers will enjoy Harkness' portrayal of the School of Night luminaries. Matt, of course, is one of them. Shakespeare and others make cameo appearances, but Matt's closest friends are Marlowe and Raleigh. Harkness has done her homework, but I still have issues with the missing logic and confusing plotting of this book. Fans of the first book will probably like this one anyway. ~ Tessa Eger 3.5 out of 5 stars