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Black Is The Badge Of Hell

A review of Shadow of Night, the second in Deborah Harkness's All Souls' Trilogy (not-actually-spoilery spoiler alert: there is hardly a library to be seen, but you'll get to meet Shakespeare).

Black Is The Badge Of Hell

BOOK REPORT for Shadow of Night (All Souls Book 2) by Deborah Harkness

Cover Story: For Better and Worse
BFF Charm: The Jury's Out
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: Born a Rambling (Wo)Man
Bonus Factors: Time Travel, Magic
Relationship Status: Let's Just Be Friends

Cover Story: For Better and Worse

I've seen worse, but I liked the cover of the first book in the series better. It was cleaner and I liked the imagery better -- there's just something weird in a not-great way about the purply-blue-black astrological/alchemical/anatomical stuff in the center. The drawing of Elizabethan London is cool, and all the artwork fits with the story, but it's too cluttered for me. But! It's still miles and miles better than most YA book covers, and the typeface is cool.

The Deal:

This is the second book in a series, so if you haven't read the first AND you don't want to be spoiled because you plan to read it some day, go no further! Here be dragons (and witches and vampires and daemons), and all that.

So, when we last saw Diana and Matthew, they were about to timewalk into Oxfordshire of 1590 to find a witch who could teach Diana a thing or two, and possibly track down the elusive Ashmole 782. Their friends and family were banded together to form a Conventicle -- that's a counter-Congregation -- and are hiding out at the de Clermont estate, Sept-Tours.

Matthew and Diana have made it to Elizabethan England, but things aren't as simple as just popping down the lane to a local pub called the Witch and Book and ordering up help from the past. They have to avoid the Congregation of the past, the whims of dictatorial monarchs, a very jealous Kit Marlowe, and witch hunts; this doesn't even compare to Matthew's pain-in-the-ass protectiveness and all the secrets Diana and Matthew keep from each other, as well as the fact that they know it's possible for them to make witch-vampire babies (and might have to, in order to save the creatures from extinction).

BFF Charm: The Jury's Out

I gave Diana my BFF charm back with the first book, but her control freak tendencies and stubbornness were too much to bear here. I'd be happy to be her colleague or neighbor, especially if my washing machine broke or I needed some other form of witchy intervention, but she kiiiinda drove me up the wall in this book. By the end, after she had an awesome come-to-Jesus (or come-to-goddess) moment with a family member, she was getting better. I might reconsider rescinding the charm based on personal growth in the third book; we'll see.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

Like I mentioned in my review of A Discovery of Witches, Matthew is SO not my type. I get it -- vampires are controlling and possessive. Guess that's why I don't like vampires! But the two of them do score a 3 simply because the long cock-tease of the last book is over, and because I think towards the end, there are great strides in marital communication, even if they're of a squicky paranormal nature involving blood-drinking as a method of intimacy. Gross.

You know who I totally want more of? Henry Percy. That guy rocked my socks, and even though most of what I think about him is from my own imagination and historical research, filling in the blanks and backstory Harkness leaves out, I'd give him a 7 at the very least.

Talky Talk: Born a Rambling (Wo)Man

Whoo, boy. Harkness can come up with some great action, but there are times when it seems to take forever for her to do so. A lot of people mentioned thinking the first quarter of the book was super boring, but I actually really liked it. I enjoyed the historical detail and the difficulties Diana had fitting in back in 1590. However, I do think the book is about 20% too long, and I don't think it's because I'm used to reading YA. Luckily, I have no compunction skimming to get to the juicy bits, and there were a few juicy bits here and there.

Bonus Factor: Time Travel

Time travel! I'm totally a sucker for time travel books, and I've been on a bit of a time travel bender lately -- Connie Willis, Diana Gabaldon (shut up!), Stephen King (that one was terrible) -- so it's interesting to see how different authors handle the paradoxes of time travel.

Bonus Factor: Magic

My favorite parts of the book were all the magic lessons. Less vampire posturing and more spell casting, please! I really feel like Diana is in danger of pulling a Bella Swan and completely abandoning her witch family for the de Clermont family, and I super hope that doesn't happen in the last book. More magic!

Casting Call:

Rachel McAdams as Diana

How do you guys feel about Rachel McAdams as Diana? I cast Matthew in my earlier review.

Relationship Status: Let's Just Be Friends

Book, you delighted me but sent up some warning flags on our first date. I agreed to a second date, and while it was fun, I don't think we're meant to be life partners. You talk more than you listen, and I can't quite figure out your opinions on gender equality, which makes me a little uneasy. I do enjoy spending time with you, and am happy to continue to hang out as long as there's no expectation of a romantic commitment. We can hit the beach, or while away a rainy Saturday, no problem.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Penguin.  I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!).Shadow of Night will be available July 10.

Can't wait for July 10? Leave a comment telling whether you'd rather be a vampire, witch, daemon or human, and you could win a copy of the book, a temp tattoo, and some pins! Open to international winners; selection will be announced THIS Friday, July 6.

Meghan Miller's photo About the Author: Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas and writer for Forever Young Adult. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.