Look for the hit TV series “A Discovery of Witches” airing Sundays on AMC and BBC America, and streaming on Sundance Now and Shudder.
J. K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Anne Rice—only a few writers capture the imagination the way that Deborah Harkness has with her New York Times–bestselling All Souls trilogy. A Discovery of Witches introduces reluctant witch Diana Bishop, vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and the battle for a lost, enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782.
Picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night takes Diana and Matthew on a trip through time to Elizabethan London, where they are plunged into a world of spies, magic, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the School of Night. As the search for Ashmole 782 deepens and Diana seeks out a witch to tutor her in magic, the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them, and they embark on a very different—and vastly more dangerous—journey.
About the Author
Visit www.deborahharkness.com and follow “Deborah Harkness” on Facebook and @DebHarkness on Twitter.
Read an Excerpt
“Why no beard? Have you been ill?” Marlowe’s eyes flickered when they spotted me, nudging me with the insistent pressure that marked him unmistakably as a daemon.
I suppressed an urge to rush at one of England’s greatest playwrights and shake his hand before peppering him with questions. What little information I once knew about him flew from my mind now that he was standing before me. Had any of his plays been performed in 1590? How old was he? Younger than Matthew and I, certainly. Marlowe couldn’t yet be thirty. I smiled at him warmly.
“Wherever did you find that?” Marlowe pointed, his voice dripping with contempt. I looked over my shoulder, expecting to see some hideous work of art. There was nothing but empty space.
He meant me. My smile faltered.
“Gently, Kit,” Matthew said with a scowl.
Marlowe shrugged off the rebuke. “It is no matter. Take your fill of her before the others arrive, if you must. George has been here for some time, of course, eating your food and reading your books. He is still without a patron and hasn’t a farthing to his name.”
“George is welcome to whatever I have, Kit.” Matthew kept his eyes on the young man, his face expressionless as he drew our intertwined fingers to his mouth. “Diana, this is my dear friend Christopher Marlowe.”
Matthew’s introduction provided Marlowe with an opportunity to inspect me more openly. His attention crawled from my toes to the top of my head. The young man’s scorn was evident, his jealousy better hidden. Marlowe was indeed in love with my husband. I had suspected it back in Madison when my fingers had traveled over his inscription in Matthew’s copy of Doctor Faustus.
“I had no idea there was a brothel in Woodstock that specialized in over-tall women. Most of your whores are more delicate and appealing, Matthew. This one is a positive Amazon,” Kit sniffed, looking over his shoulder at the disordered drifts of paper that covered the surface of the table. “According to the Old Fox’s latest, it was business rather than lust that took you to the north. Wherever did you find the time to secure her services?”
“It is remarkable, Kit, how easily you squander affection,” Matthew drawled, though there was a note of warning in his tone. Marlowe, seemingly intent on the correspondence, failed to recognize it and smirked. Matthew’s fingers tightened on mine.
“Is Diana her real name, or was it adopted to enhance her allure among customers? Perhaps a baring of her right breast, or a bow and arrow, is in order,” Marlowe suggested, picking up a sheet of paper. “Remember when Blackfriars Bess demanded we call her Aphrodite before she would let us—”
“Diana is my wife.” Matthew was gone from my side, his hand no longer wrapped around mine but twisted in Marlowe’s collar.
“No.” Kit’s face registered his shock.
“Yes. That means she is the mistress of this house, bears my name, and is under my protection. Given all that—and our long-standing friendship, of course—no word of criticism or whisper against her virtue will cross your lips in future.”
I wiggled my fingers to restore their feeling. The angry pressure from Matthew’s grip had driven the ring on the third finger of my left hand into the flesh, leaving a pale red mark. Despite its lack of facets, the diamond in the center captured the warmth of the firelight. The ring had been an unexpected gift from Matthew’s mother, Ysabeau. Hours ago—centuries ago? centuries to come?—Matthew had repeated the words of the old marriage ceremony and slid the diamond over my knuckles.
With a clatter of dishes, two vampires appeared in the room. One was a slender man with an expressive face, weather-beaten skin the color of a hazelnut, and black hair and eyes. He was holding a flagon of wine and a goblet whose stem was shaped into a dolphin, the bowl balanced on its tail. The other was a rawboned woman bearing a platter of bread and cheese.
“You are home, milord,” the man said, obviously confused. Oddly enough, his French accent made him easier to understand. “The messenger on Thursday said—”
“My plans changed, Pierre.” Matthew turned to the woman. “My wife’s possessions were lost on the journey, Françoise, and the clothes she was wearing were so filthy I burned them.” He told the lie with bald confidence. Neither the vampires nor Kit looked convinced by it.
“Your wife?” Françoise repeated, her accent as French as Pierre’s. “But she is a w—”
“Warmblood,” Matthew finished, plucking the goblet from the tray. “Tell Charles there’s another mouth to feed. Diana hasn’t been well and must have fresh meat and fish on the advice of her doctor. Someone will
need to go to the market, Pierre.”
Pierre blinked. “Yes, milord.”
“And she will need something to wear,” Françoise observed, eyeing me appraisingly. When Matthew nodded, she disappeared, Pierre following in her wake.
“What’s happened to your hair?” Matthew held up a strawberry blond curl.
“Oh, no,” I murmured. My hands rose. Instead of my usual shoulder-length, straw-colored hair, they found unexpectedly springy reddish-gold locks reaching down to my waist. The last time my hair had developed a mind of its own, I was in college, playing Ophelia in a production of Hamlet. Then and now its unnaturally rapid growth and change of hue were not good signs. The witch within me had awakened during our journey to the past. There was no telling what other magic had been unleashed.
What People are Saying About This
Praise for Shadow of Night
“A captivating and romantic ripping yarn.”
—E. L. James, “Books of the Year 2012: Authors Choose Their Favourites,” The Guardian
“The joy that Harkness, herself a historian, takes in visiting the past is evident on every page. . . . A great spell, the one that can enchant a reader and make a 600-page book fly through her fingertips, is cast. . . . Its enduring rewards are plenty.”
“Fans of Harkness’s 2011 debut A Discovery of Witches will be delighted. . . . Harkness delivers enough romance and excitement to keep the pages turning. Readers will devour it.”
“Deborah Harkness takes us places we’ve never been before. . . . Shadow of Night isn't just about wonderfully detailed descriptions of England in 1591, it's about being there. Readers time-travel as precisely and precariously as Diana and Matthew do. . . . Shadow ends as Discovery did with promises of more to come. Lucky for us.”
“Harkness exudes her own style of magic in making the world of late 16th century England come alive. . . . Enchanting, engrossing and as impossible to put down as its predecessor, Shadow of Night is a perfect blend of fantasy, history and romance. Its single greatest flaw is, after almost 600 pages, it’s over. If you’ve already read and enjoyed A Discovery of Witches, picking up Shadow of Night is an absolute requirement. Otherwise, pick up both, and consider your reading list complete.”
“Picking up where she left off in last year’s A Discovery of Witches, Harkness proves she’s not suffering from a sophomore slump with this addictive tale of magic, mayhem and two lovers.”
“Rich, period fun, particularly delightful in its witty characterization of historical immortals . . . Shadow ramps up the supernatural suspense.”
—New York Daily News
“This novel is as much a love story about a bygone era as it is about Matthew and Diana. It overflows with a colorful cast of characters, many of whom Harkness has plucked straight from the history books, and Harkness renders the late 1500s in exquisite detail. . . . The writing is so rich, the characters so compelling . . . and best of all, Harkness manages to execute with aplomb the act of answering old questions while posing new ones that will intensify anticipation for the final installment. Readers who have been counting down the days, take heart: The wait was most assuredly worth it.”
Reading Group Guide
Deborah Harkness’s A Discovery of Witches, the thrilling debut novel in the All Souls trilogy, exploded onto the literary scene, becoming an instant bestseller and leaving fans breathless with its cliffhanger ending. Now, in Shadow of Night, Harkness returns with feisty heroine Diana Bishop and her continuing search for the enchanted manuscript known only as Ashmole 782. The new novel finds that Diana has traveled back in time, embraced her magical abilities, and confronted Matthew’s complex past as a fifteen–hundred–year–old vampire—but is she risking too much?
The year is 1590, Elizabeth is queen, and all of Europe is aflame with witch burnings. Into this world of danger and conspiracy arrive Diana and Matthew. She has timewalked them from today to sixteenth–century England in the hope that they will track down Ashmole 782 and unlock its secrets. But Diana must also find a guide to help her master her powerful yet unpredictable magic. From the moment they arrive in the past, Diana can see the threads of time unraveling, but has no idea how to control them.
Harkness draws on her talent for storytelling and her experience as a historian to create a richly textured, authentic world, surrounding her characters with details of Elizabethan life large and small: Diana mingles with Sir Walter Raleigh and Christopher Marlowe, is present for the invention of the telescope, and dances at the court of the Holy Roman Emperor. For Matthew, sixteenth–century life is a return home: to his country manor, to his family, and to his life of royal espionage and international intrigue. This meticulously researched milieu is the setting for an expansive and fast–paced adventure that stretches through centuries and around the globe.
In a world filled with supernatural subterfuge where even thoughts can be dangerous, Diana and Matthew discover unexpected allies; loyalties hundreds of years in the making are tested, and courage comes from the least likely of corners. From royalty to half–mad alchemists, Matthew and Diana find that they aren’t the only ones seeking the manuscript. While Matthew attempts to make peace with his troubled past, Diana uncovers a disturbing prophecy for her future—one that could put those she loves most at risk—as Ashmole 782 begins to reveal its dark secrets.
Alchemy, history, and magic—Harkness is in her element, and her smooth control of plot and prose is a pleasure to read. By turns sexy and suspenseful, entertaining and exhilarating, Shadow of Night is a massive achievement that will leave her fans clamoring for the final installment in the gripping All Souls trilogy.
ABOUT DEBORAH HARKNESS
Deborah Harkness is the author of the bestselling A Discovery of Witches and is also a historian specializing in the history of science, magic, and alchemy. She has received numerous awards, including Fulbright, Guggenheim, and National Humanities Center fellowships, and is currently a professor of history at the University of Southern California.
A CONVERSATION WITH DEBORAH HARKNESS
Q. Because you are a scholar, your work is based on constant research and analysis; the novel is filled with details that could come only from extended historical work. Do you find a difference between researching for academic purposes and for creative writing? How long did it take you to gather the information for Shadow of Night?
In a way I’ve been researching Shadow of Night since 1982, when I first began studying this period in earnest, though my interest in Elizabethan England extends beyond that into my childhood and teen years. No matter how much I’ve read or how many documents I’ve consulted for my scholarship, however, when writing Shadow of NightI found there was still so much I didn’t know, such as how far and fast a horse could travel in a single day in November or what people ate in December. It was an exciting, humbling experience to write this book.
Q. Your field of specialty is Elizabethan England and the history of science. Is there anything about the period you’d like readers to know that didn’t make it into Shadow of Night? Did you have to leave anything out?
How much space do we have for my answer? Seriously, if I had put everything into the book I wanted to in terms of historical detail, the book would have been six or seven times as long! In the end, I set myself this test: If I was writing about the present, would I stop to describe this shoe/breakfast/shop? If the answer was no, I kept the story moving. If the answer was yes, then I tried to tell the reader the most important historical details, but it was still not everything that I might have shared.
Q. When we last spoke, you had just published your debut novel, A Discovery of Witches. At the time, you said, “Novelists, like the alchemists of old, know that true creation takes time and patience, and that it’s likely you will have many disasters and failures before you achieve success.” Does this statement still reflect your feelings about writing? Could you share a few details about your development as a novelist between the two books?
Writing a second novel was very different. Writers I’ve spoken to often tell me that books are like children: No two are the same. That was certainly the case with Shadow of Night. I really struggled with the beginning and the most effective way to arrange the plot, much more so than with Discovery of Witches. Even in the last month of writing, I was making major changes in the sequence of events.
Q. You added notes at the end of the book that some of the characters (major and minor) are historical figures. Can you say something about the interplay between real people and fictional characters in the novel?
Back when I started A Discovery of Witches and was first imagining this story about an ancient vampire scientist and a reluctant witch, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun if my vampire was someone who really lived, someone mysterious who knew interesting people but remained in the shadows?” I knew of just such a person in Elizabethan England, the poet–spy Matthew Roydon. From that moment on—and this was in 2008, so it was some time ago—Matthew Roydon’s life story determined a great deal about Matthew Clairmont’s intellectual habits and his taste in friends. A historical figure like Matthew Roydon is a novelist’s dream, because what little we know about him is so fascinating and leaves so much room for creative invention. I like to think that the historical characters add the same air of verisimilitude to this book set in 1590 as going to yoga and entertaining trick–or–treaters did to A Discovery of Witches. As for the minor characters, I drew them from interesting individuals I’d come across in my research. They are usually people about whom I wanted to know more, but there is, alas, no further evidence about them.
Q. In this novel, Diana learns to use her magic and Matthew comes face–to–face with his past. How does this empower and change them?
Facing who you are is the most empowering thing a person can do, so it isn’t surprising that their experiences in 1590 change Matthew and Diana enormously. And long–lasting relationships are built on honesty and acceptance, so this changes not only Diana and Matthew individually, but also who they are as a couple.
Q. Two of our characters are Hancock and Gallowglass. How did they arrive on the scene?
One of the most exciting aspects of writing fiction is I never quite know what’s going to happen next. In A Discovery of Witches, Matthew was suddenly driving around in a car and when he stopped, Hamish was there to greet him. I had no plans for Matthew to have a best friend, but now I can’t imagine life without Hamish. It was the same thing with Gallowglass and Hancock—although slightly more dramatic as befits their characters! I was settling in to a cozy evening in front of a fire at the Old Lodge when a storm blew in, carrying Gallowglass and Hancock with it. Once they were there, I fell in love with their banter and the way they are constantly puncturing Matthew’s confidence.
Q. In your personal reading, do you gravitate toward supernatural and/or historical fiction? How have your own reading tastes shaped this novel?
I don’t read much fiction, to be honest, and with the exception of the Harry Potter series I haven’t read supernatural fiction since I was a student and read Anne Rice. As for historical fiction, I like historical mysteries set in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries but don’t read much else. I find it hard to relax when reading works set in the periods of history I know best.
Q. If you had to pick one book (besides your own) to be a companion piece to Shadow of Night, what would it be?
That’s a great question. I think it would have to be Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus or a book about Marlowe, like Charles Nicholl’s The Reckoning, which brilliantly conveys how tricky it was to lead a double (or triple) life in Elizabethan England. Of course, a Shakespeare play like Loves Labours Lost or The Tempest would also be an excellent choice.
Q. Any hints about what will happen next to Diana and Matthew?
Diana and Matthew will face an interesting problem in the next book: They have been dropped into a world where time has passed and people have lived their lives as best they could, and they will be expected to step back into a whirl of action and reaction. I would expect some reunions and some farewells, some fascinating new characters as well as old friends and, of course, finally learning what it was that the witches discovered.. . . .