I jumped on the A Discovery of Witches bandwagon reallllly late. Like, as in, finished last week before I anxiously started Shadow of Night. I like to wait awhile for the hype over books to die down, before picking them up, but I never meant to wait that long! One good thing about my waiting though, is that I didn't even have to wait 24 hours to pick up the sequel. And it was really, everything I wanted in a sequel.
STOP READING HERE TO AVOID SPOILERS OF BOOK 1
When A Discovery of Witches was ending, Diana and Matthew -- witch and vampire -- were about to time walk back in history. As they arrive at their destination in Elizabethan London, the character development surrounding Matthew (up until now quite a mystery) ramps up and we start to learn more about his past and the people he had previously acquainted himself with. We also witness Diana learning more about herself and her magic, as the pair continue to battle against witches, vampires, and daemons over Ashmole 782.
The amount of detail and world-building that Harkness manages to write is amazing. You'll feel transported back to the 1500's and will feel for Diana as she struggles to find her place in the past. She and Matthew, though meant to be together, must face relationship troubles in the midst of everything else, as Matthew seems to become a person quite different from the man Diana believes she knows, the longer they remain in London. Even the details surrounding their marital issues are created to be believable and help us readers to love the characters even more, despite their obvious flaws.
I loved the introduction of famous historical characters to the plot and all the instances of humor that manage to prevent the seriousness of the creature war from overtaking the book. Deborah Harkness is a huge talent and I'm so glad I've finally joined in the fanfare! If you love a great fantasy mixed with a great, contemporary romance, be sure to check these books out. They'd make great vacation reads this summer.