“Shadow of Night” (book 2 of “The All Souls Trilogy”)
by Deborah Harkness
read by Jennifer Ikeda
Published by Penguin Audio
Approx 24.5 hours

I am really getting tired of Supernatural Romantic books. I’m a strong believer in the idea that vampires should be staked not taken to bed. I can only blame Anne Rice and the Vampire Lestat for starting this trend. So, you may ask yourself, “Why did
Gil T. listen to this Audiobook?” Well, I really don’t know what started me on the book, other than I’m a sucker for supernatural tales and I keep hoping someone gets back to the killing of these evil beasts. While the vampires were not staked and the premise of this story is the marriage of a vampire to a witch, I gave it a chance. As it turned out, I was mildly pleased. The story had only a touch of those Supernatural Romance novels, but better yet this book had more of a science-fiction time-travelling tale, and if you know me, you know I’m a sucker for time-travel.

I picked up this book not knowing it was the second book in the trilogy, and when I first started listening, I realized I was missing something, so I looked up the information on the author and found I missed the first book. As I continued to listen I found that the author wrote into the story some of the missing info I would have obtained from the first book, within the first hour or so of listening. This makes this pretty much a stand-alone novel, but I think, out of curiosity, I’ll go back and find the first book.

From what I can gather, the first book introduced Diana Bishop, an Oxford scholar and witch who is not in control of her powers, and vampire Matthew DuClairmont. Who according to this book is from a large influential “family” of vampires. Diana finds an alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782. When she discovers the book she and Matthew come under attack from a group of witches that want the book for their own uses. Diana is able to “timewalk” her and Matthew to a time in Matthews past in order to find the book before it is enchanted and maybe find another witch to teach Diana how to better use her powers.

Diana “timewalks” them back to the 16th century when Matthew (remember he is a very old vampire) had some dark secrets. He is a spy for Queen Elizabeth, seems to be in charge of destroying witches to some extent, and is a member of the legendary “School of Night.” The School of Night is pretty much a who’s who of the 1590s featuring in its membership, Sir Walter Raleigh, Christopher Marlow, William Shakespeare, George Chapman and Thomas Herriot. In this book Harkness allows her characters to interact with these folks and others like Henry Percy and the Queen herself. At times the time-travellers seem to influence the historical significance of these people. Harkness also plays on the ideas that Christopher Marlow was a demon, and even the poet Matthew Roydon is a vampire, in fact Matthew DuClairmont is Roydon. It makes for a fun twist in the story.

So this is what kept my interest; Harkness was able to weave her story into the history facts and make this fiction a bit more intriguing. So with the rest of the story the two time-walkers visit Matthew’s father, the Emperor Rudolf in Prague, and a few other historical figures in order to track down Ashmole 782. The story is not a fast paced action story but rather one that is rather like a Jane Austen novel set in the 16th century, with a bit of vampire and witch lore sprinkled in. There are no real vampire battles nor real witchcraft but the story does remain a bit intriguing in what seems like a Dan Brown mystery written by Jane Austen.

The reader, Jennifer Ikeda, did a super job of reading this book and captured the voice of Diana perfectly. She was also able to do the vocal change-ups that allowed her to voice the other characters in their own voices. As a listener I definitely knew when which character was speaking when, thanks to her vocal changes in the reading of this book.

Slow moving but intriguing, I will be checking out the other books in the series now that this one has my curiosity up.

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