I am excited that Shadow of Night, the sequel to A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, is coming out next week. If you’re not familiar with the first book in the All Souls Trilogy, A Discovery of Witches was one of the hottest books of 2011. Shadow of Night will be one of the hottest books of this summer.
A Discovery of Witches has been called Twilight for adults by some critics, but it is much more than that. Harkness combines history, the occult, romance and suspense into a perfectly bewitching blend in her first novel. Diana Bishop, a hereditary witch who has rejected her heritage, accidentally calls up the enchanted alchemical manuscript Ashmole 782 while doing research in the remote stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library. (What librarian could resist a heroine who spends her time in the stacks of the Bodleian? I know I cannot.) Her discovery soon attracts a variety of witches, vampires and daemons intent on unlocking the secrets of Ashmole 782 which has been lost for centuries. But Diana is the only one who can break the spell holding the secrets to the manuscript. Forming an alliance with vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont that deepens into a passionate love affair, Diana seeks the treasure hidden in the enchanted manuscript.
Shadow of Night picks up where A Discovery of Witches left off. Newly married Diana and Matthew travel back in time to Elizabethan London in pursuit of Ashmole 782. Matthew reunites with his old friends in the School of Night, including Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh, while Diana must find a witch to teach her how to use her magic. Just a few problems may crop up – Matthew’s dark past and the Elizabethan tendency to burn witches for starters. I can hardly wait to see how Diana handles living in Elizabethan London, a far cry from life in 21st century England. I am also curious about the relationship between Diana and Matthew as I am sure that it can only grow more interesting as time passes.
If you are looking for another series to tide you over until Harkness completes her All Souls Trilogy, you might like Anne Rice’s Lives of the Mayfair Witches series. Like Harkness, Rice gives the reader a detailed fantasy world where witchcraft is real, following the history of a family of witches through twelve generations from 17th century Scotland to Haiti to America where they settle in New Orleans.
The first book in the series is The Witching Hour where Rowan Mayfair, the 13th generation of Mayfair witches, must pay dearly for the bargain made twelve generations before with the guiding spirit of the clan, Lasher. Poor Rowan is ignorant of her heritage, adopted and brought up in California where she becomes a brilliant neurosurgeon. She uses her gifts to save the life of Michael Curry who, like Rowan, has unwanted extrasensory powers, including the ability to see Lasher. Rowan and Michael return to the family home in New Orleans, but now Lasher wants to claim his reward, to come through to this world forever, and only Rowan can open the door between worlds. If you enjoy the witchcraft, history and romance of Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy, you may find you like the same qualities in Rice’s Mayfair Witches series.
If what you like most about the All Souls Trilogy books is the suspense of the chase after the missing manuscript and the occult lore, especially the vampire lore, as well as the historical detail, you might like The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. The Historian is a brilliant reimagining of the story of Dracula, the historical Dracula known as Vlad the Impaler.
One night a young woman finds in her father’s library an ancient book and some old letters that lead her on a journey to uncover the secrets of her father’s past and the mystery of her mother’s disappearance. So begins her quest to find the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose story gave birth to the legend of Dracula. She follows in the footsteps of the hunt her father and mother began years ago, her father set on his path by his mentor in graduate school. From dusty libraries to exotic cities like Istanbul and Budapest, she follows clues and codes hidden in ancient manuscripts and monastic traditions, pursued by Vlad’s protectors, and coming ever closer to solving the mystery of her past and confronting the evil of Dracula. Like Harkness, Kostova skillfully blends fantasy, history and suspense to satisfy your craving for a tale of the supernatural that is more literary than gruesome.
I think I’ll put my name on the waiting list for Shadow of Night at the Groton Public Library right now. Summertime and the reading is supernatural!