Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Review: Shadow of Night. Yeah.

Well. You see. Hmmphf. 


Deborah Harkness's new book, Shadow of Night, has been all the talk 'round the blogs, and I am noooo different. I was itching to get my hands on it and dive right in. And then I did! And then I started reading! And then....NOTHING HAPPENED. For most of the book. 


Short blurb: Diana and Matthew are in the 1500s. Diana needs a witch coach to teach her to harness her witchy powers. There are lots of famous dead people: Sir Walter Raleigh, Christopher Marlowe, Queen Elizabeth! And 87,000 others that I won't name here. So. Many. Historical. Figures. Because Matthew knows everybody. 


I read this book along with Heather, and she and I generally share a brain. This buddy reading arrangement made for a supremely enjoyable experience even though the book was not as supremely enjoyable as I'd expected. I didn't dislike it. I just rolled my eyes a lot. 


In my previous experience with Harkness's work, I found Diana and Matthew absolutely, mind blowingly annoying. That is, they are a very codependent lot. Matthew is bossy and uber-protective. Diana is kinda wishy-washy for a kickass scholar. And she naps a lot. In this book, I did find their relationship somewhat improved. That is, Diana has become a better "Matthew handler." He was still bossy, but she was a little more willing to blow his behavior off or defy him rather than bow down every time. 


My biggest quibbles with this installment are these:

  • Too many conflicts. Kitchen sink, y'all. I counted 8-10 MAJOR conflicts. 
  • Slow-moving. It took an annoyingly long time to get anything accomplished. Failed attempts to find a teacher of magic are fine but eventually I expect the story to deliver significantly before page 500. 
  • Character weirdness. Matthew put up with things in this book that seemed remarkably out of character for him. I'm looking at you, Kit Marlowe.
  • There's a big WTF twist at the end with NO EXPLANATION AT ALL. Annoyed. Seriously. Not a cliffhanger, just a plot development that seemed out of place or unnecessary at this juncture. 

So, in short, this novel suffers from a ripping case of "middlenovelitis." Lots of unnecessaries that seem to take up a book's worth of time. 


Before you think I'm calling this one a lost cause, I did enjoy the historical romp in this book. I liked meeting the dead historicals (band name?) even though I thought there were far too many of them introduced here. I felt transported to the time period, but I was ready for more plot development and it felt like it stalled. 


I'm still looking forward to the final installment. I'm invested enough in these characters' lives to NEED that last book. I will definitely be reading with Heather again. Check out some of the greatest hits from our week-long conversation...


July 5th: 
AndiAre we ready? Are we???? lol 40 pages of The Secret Garden left for me which really adds up to about 20 pages on my Nook. Will finish at lunch today.


HeatherUm, yeah, about that. I *kinda* started it this morning. I was going to tell you, I swear! Woo hoo!


AndiLMAO! Well I secretly read 30 pages last weekend. So we're even. :D 


July 10th: 
Andi: WHEN WILL THE WITCH TRAINING START


HeatherAPPARENTLY WHEN ______ IS APPROXIMATELY 50 YEARS OLD. lol


July 13th: 
Andi: So how are you liking the book? Too annoyed to enjoy? 


HeatherOkay, that's spooky. I was just going ask you if you were as annoyed with this book as I was.


The end. Obviously, I cut out a lot of the spoilery stuff, because we typed TONS about this book. Even if we were both annoyed, it was highly discussable. 


So that's it. There is a lot of waiting to be done between now and the final installment of the All Souls trilogy. 


What did you think of Shadow of Night if you're already finished?


Rating: 
Snuggle -- Skewer
 OR Distracting one-armed hug and poke with a stick <--that's the one


Edition Pub. Date: July 2012
Publisher: Penguin Group
Format: E-book
ISBN-13: 9780670023486
Source: Gift from a blogging friend.


31 comments:

  1. I just got a copy of this one, last week! Fortunately, I'm not ready to read either book. I won a copy from Amy's blog, Life by Candlelight, so that I could read the two back-to-back. I guess that means I have the option of being completely annoyed for a very long time. LOL I'll have to see what I think of the first one . . . when I get to it. I'm hoping I'll actually like them but when you get annoyed, I often do, too. Anyway, they're fat. I won't be reading them, right away. :)

    Love the conversation between you and Heather.

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    1. LOL, Nancy, at "completely annoyed for a really long time." I hope you like the books. It's probably good that you have a nice option to let the hype die down before you jump in. The historical stuff was great -- just wish more had actually happened in this middle installment.

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  2. Uhg. I think I need a year's break from Discovery before I can handle this book. :p

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    1. LOL, you may be right. Distance is a good thing sometimes.

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  3. I almost put my rating as "snuggle, but watch out for the skewers." Seriously.

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  4. My sister is going to be so disappointed because she's really been looking forward to this book.

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    1. She might love it! I was surprisingly annoyed. I did like the rich historical detail, but I needed a little more plot movement to go along with it.

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  5. No! I really liked it. I didn't think there was a sophomore slump. :(( Yes the plot didn't move along very quickly but I loved the historical details and how Harkness dealt with issues of time walking. Maybe the audio was the difference??

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    1. Candace, I did think the historical details were well done, but ultimately I just needed a little more to go along with it. I did enjoy some of the peripheral characters who were introduced here, and I should've written more about them in the review. Gallowglass was FANTASTIC!

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  6. Annoying. I didn't see much growth in how they dealt with one another. The whole Kit thing grated. Slow moving. I still overall enjoyed it, but yeah, not the best.

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    1. KIT! Ugg. Needed a good, swift slap. I will still read the next installment. I didn't hate it. It was just "ok."

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  7. I still haven't read the first one, so I'm no help!

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    1. LOL, Angela! I hope you enjoy it if you decide to read it!

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  8. Damn. Now I don't want to read this! :-( But I probably will anyway. Maybe I'll listen to it on audio?

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    1. LOL, do it anyway. You might love it! There is a good bit to love in the historical romp, but I really would've preferred the plot to move forward a bit (lot!) more.

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  9. I won't be reading this, as while I was mostly enjoying the first one, there were a couple of things in it that just annoyed me so much I couldn't even finish it. BUT...I LOVED this review! Loved it. You and Heather are just too stinkin' adorable!

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    1. Thank you, Debi!!!! Just lettin' it all hang out. lol

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  10. My mom just phones me last night and warned me that this wasn't as good as the first, but I am still eager to listen and see what I think. I have heard several people say that it was just ok, so don't feel like you are the only one! I will have to see what I make of it when I get to it...which should be very shortly!

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    1. Looking forward to your thoughts on this one!!! It's highly discussable, like it or not!

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  11. I haven't read the first one yet either...but I'm so glad you warned me of some of the possible irritations. Nothing worse than starting a book everyone's raved about almost to celebrity status and then not liking it. You can't help but wonder, "um, is there something wrong with me?" I'll still read these but with much more realistic expectations! Thanks!

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    1. Yeah, don't let the hype monster get ya on this one. Realistic expectations are good. lol I think I had slightly unrealistic, hyped expectations reading the first book, and I was annoyed enough with facets of that one to prep me nicely for this one.

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  12. Nice to know I can happily continue to ignore this book. ;)

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  13. Yeah I pretty much felt the same way. SOMETHING has to happen before page 500. Basically if the book had started at the middle it would have been a much less annoying read. The twist at the end had me so confused and flipping back through the book wondering if I had somehow missed a chapter. There were just sooo many things that annoyed me while I was reading.

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    1. Lauren, right?! It was a ripping good time after page 500, but only 84 pages of ripping good time is not enough! I also did the flip when I saw the twist at the end. Thought a chapter was left out of my e-book copy!

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  14. I can't past the first one -- I keep stopping around page 40 -- which is too bad as many friends -- and my mother -- keep cajoling me to read it and love it with them!

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    1. LOL, different strokes for different folks, Audra. :D No worries.

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  15. It sounds like many of us are on the same page with this one--it's just our levels of enjoyment vary. I kept asking the book when we would get back to the tasks at hand--finding a teacher and the book. There was a lot of distraction and not a lot of forward motion through most of the novel. I still enjoyed it though and look forward to the final book.

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  16. See, I'm totally on the fence now. I thought I wanted to read A Discovery of Witches because it seemed like everyone and their dog LOVED it and are super-duper excited about the second book, but now I'm not sure. Maybe I'll pick it up or maybe I'll just keep reading other stuff :)

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  17. Sounds like one I can skip. I didn't read the first book so... yeah. Thanks for the review though, I appreciate your thoughts!

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