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A Reader of Fictions: Under Your Spell - Amber Benson

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Under Your Spell - Amber Benson

Shadow of Night
All Souls Trilogy, Book 2

Author: Deborah Harkness
Pages: 577
Publisher: Viking Adult
Publication Date: July 10, 2012
Source: Review Copy from Penguin in exchange for an honest review

Description from Goodreads:
Deborah Harkness exploded onto the literary scene with her debut novel, A Discovery of Witches, Book One of the magical All Souls Trilogy and an international publishing phenomenon. The novel introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and the handsome geneticist and vampire Matthew Clairmont; together they found themselves at the center of a supernatural battle over an enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782.

Now, picking up from
A Discovery of Witches cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh. Here, Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens.

Deborah Harkness has crafted a gripping journey through a world of alchemy, time travel, and magical discoveries, delivering one of the most hotly anticipated novels of the season.

First Sentence: "We arrived in an undignified heap of witch and vampire."

Last year, I received a review copy of A Discovery of Witches, and I drank it down like a savory zinfandel. Despite its length, I read book one of the All Souls Trilogy while suffering from a pulled muscle, and finished it in about two days (srsly, these books are mad long, yo). I was completely captured by book one and super duper impatient to read the next one.

Starting out, I was a bit concerned I wouldn't be able to follow this one, since it had been long enough that I wasn't sure if I would be able to remember who all of the characters were. I needn't have worried. Harkness does a good job making the cast and plotting clear without too big of an info-dump. However, I read this one over the course of a week, and it didn't go down quite as smoothly that way. I still enjoyed myself quite a bit, but I think these are books to devour on a reading bender, rather than slowly and calmly.

There will be spoilers for book one in the rest of the review, although nothing overly surprising; still, continue on at your own discretion.

In Shadow of Night, Diana and Matthew travel back to the past in an attempt to find Ashmole-782 in full. Mostly, though, this seems an excuse to belly up with famous figures from the past. There is name dropping like whoa in here: Christopher Marlowe, Walter Raleigh, Queen Elizabeth I, William Shakespeare, and on like that. I have a sort of love/hate relationship with this kind of time traveling. As a historian, I am not surprised Harkness couldn't resist the temptation, but I wish it had been done a bit more subtly.

Two factors made this a lesser book than the first in my opinion. First, I definitely felt the middle book syndrome. Diana and Matthew spent a lot of time doing things that weren't particularly essential to the plot. The plot-like things they did do were relatively anti-climactic. That's just not cool. Second, while I love time traveling, I'm seriously picky about it, and Harkness did not do it in a way I approve of. Either time accounted for them being back there and they create the future they left by being in the past OR they change the future and shit is different. You can't do both. Except Harkness thinks you can. Diana and Matthew run amok in Elizabethan England and change the past without having a massive effect on the future. RIIIIIGHT.

Here's where my review gets a bit less focused. I'm somewhat reluctant to say this, since it opens up a whole can of worms, but, what the heck, I'M DOING IT: All the folks looking for something else to read after Twilight, put down 50 Shades of BDSM and read the All Souls Trilogy.

The relationship between Matthew and Diana is straight up Bella and Edward, only Diana is much more capable of taking care of herself. Matthew, however, is the stereotypical vampire male lead that makes 50 percent of the female population swoon copiously. That is to say that he is SERIOUSLY OVERPROTECTIVE and occasionally downright terrifying. Oh, yeah, and moody. Every fifty pages or so Diana had to be all like 'yo, you're worthy of love, and I love you, and you can't tell me I don't.' *facepalm*

Adding to the similarities, pretty much everyone around them wants to keep Diana and Matthew apart, because vampires and witches aren't supposed to be together. Oh, and they're not supposed to have babies either! On top of that, they make some people homicidal (can't think why) and make all of the rest incredibly jealous, because everyone wants Diana and Matthew.

These things I am not a big fan of, but I definitely recommend this over the other two series. Why? It's well-written for one thing. Harkness may be spinning out a questionable, slightly horrifying tale of true love, but she also knows how to write sentences. Hurrah! On top of that, the All Souls Trilogy has a plot! You can have your wealthy vampire melodrama AND an overarching plot!

The All Souls Trilogy is most definitely not for everyone, but I think there are a lot of women out there who are missing out if they have not found this series, because they will love it. Remember: read it in as few sittings as possible, curled up in bed with some wine and chocolate.

Rating: 3.5/5

Favorite Quote: "‘Stop trying to be perfect. Try being real for a change.’"

"I’m under your spell
Nothing I can do
You just took my soul with you
You worked your charm so well
Finally, I knew
Everything I dreamed was true

You made me believe

The moon to the tide

I can feel you inside

I’m under your spell

Surging like the sea
Wanting you so helplessly
I break with every swell
Lost in ecstasy

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Blogger Lilian said...

"Diana and Matthew run amok in Elizabethan England and change the past without having a massive effect on the future."
you had me smiling with that line! I am curious as to what "running amok" entails now.
and maybe Diana wouldn't be so useless since she'll be a trained witch.

I am a fan of timetravelling...so I guess I will pick it up (I was supposed to receive a galley from Viking--I guess I will need to email them about it soon). But as I was not a fan of book one, I'm not surprised if I end up hurling it at a window.

Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

July 9, 2012 at 9:48 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

I think you probably will end up throwing it at the window...

Matthew's all extra whiny and jealous and demanding in Shadow of Night, because he's in the past and feels the need to act like a sixteenth century man. Diana mostly just ignores him, except for the whining (which precipitates all the zomg i love you forever stuff).

Diana does learn how to do things, though! You'll love that part!

July 9, 2012 at 10:25 AM  

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