Shadow of Night
The #1 New York Times–bestselling sequel to A Discovery of Witches is as “enchanting, engrossing, and as impossible to put down as its predecessor” (Miami Herald)
J. K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Anne Rice—only a few writers capture the imagination the way that Deborah Harkness has done with books one and two of her New York Times–bestselling All Souls trilogy. A Discovery of Witches introduced reluctant witch Diana Bishop, vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and the battle for a lost, enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782.
Harkness’s much-anticipated sequel, Shadow of Night, picks up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending. Diana and Matthew time-travel to Elizabethan London and 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 searches for 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.
“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.
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.”
“Harkness delights in lining up the living dead and modern academic history. . . . This tale of a feminist Yankee in Queen Elizabeth’s court charms amid the tumult, as the gifted heroine and her groom fight for generations and another sequel to come in order to protect the magical world that’s all around us.”
A Discovery of Witches debuted at # 2 on the New York Times bestseller list with publications following in 37 countries. What has been your reaction to the outpouring of love for A Discovery of Witches? Was it surprising how taken fans were with Diana and Matthew’s story?
It has been amazing—and a bit overwhelming. I was surprised by how quickly readers embraced two central characters who challenge our typical notion of what a heroine or hero should be. And I continue to be amazed whenever a new reader pops up, whether one in the US or somewhere like Finland or Japan—to tell me how much they enjoyed being caught up in Diana’s world.
Last summer, Warner Brothers acquired screen rights to the trilogy, and David Auburn, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning writer of Proof, has been tapped to pen the screenplay. Are you looking forward to your novels being portrayed on the big screen? What are your favorite casting ideas that you’ve heard from friends and readers?
I was thrilled when Warner Brothers wanted to translate the All Souls trilogy from book to screen. At first I was reluctant about the whole idea of a movie, and it actually took me nearly two years to agree to let someone try. The team at Warner Brothers impressed me with their seriousness about the project and their commitment to the characters and story I was trying to tell. Their decision to go with David Auburn confirmed that my faith in them was not misplaced. As for the casting, I deliberately don’t say anything about that! I would hate for any actor or actress to be cast in one of these roles and feel that they didn’t have my total support. I will say, however, that many of my readers’ ideas involve actors who have already played a vampire and I would be very surprised if one of them were asked to be Matthew!
Shadow of Night opens on a scene in 1590s Elizabethan England featuring the famous School of Night, a group of historical figures believed to be friends, including Sir Walter Raleigh and playwright Christopher Marlowe. Why did you choose to feature these individuals, and can we expect Diana and Matthew to meet other famous figures from the past?
I wrote my master’s thesis on the imagery surrounding Elizabeth I during the last two decades of her reign. One of my main sources was the poem The Shadow of Night by George Chapman—a member of this circle of fascinating men—and that work is dedicated to a mysterious poet named Matthew Roydon about whom we know very little. When I was first thinking about how vampires moved in the world (and this was way back in the autumn of 2008 when I was just beginning A Discovery of Witches) I remembered Roydon and thought “that is the kind of identity a vampire would have, surrounded by interesting people but not the center of the action.” From that moment on I knew the second part of Diana and Matthew’s story would take place among the School of Night. And from a character standpoint, Walter Raleigh, Christopher Marlowe, George Chapman, and the other men associated with the group are irresistible. They were such significant, colorful presences in Elizabethan England.
In Shadow of Night, we learn more about the alchemical bonds between Diana and Matthew. In your day job, you are a professor of history and science at the University of Southern California and have focused on alchemy in your research. What aspects of this intersection between science and magic do you hope readers will pick up on while reading Shadow of Night?
Whereas A Discovery of Witches focused on the literature and symbolism of alchemy, in Shadow of Night I’m able to explore some of the hands-on aspects of this ancient tradition. There is still plenty of symbolism for Diana to think about, but in this volume we go from abstractions and ideals to real transformation and change—which was always my intention with the series. Just as we get to know more about how Elizabethan men and women undertook alchemical experiments, we also get to see Matthew and Diana’s relationship undergo the metamorphosis from new love to something more.
Shadow of Night spans the globe, with London, France, and Prague as some of the locales. Did you travel to these destinations for your research?
I did. My historical research has been based in London for some time now, so I’ve spent long stretches of time living in the City of London—the oldest part of the metropolis—but I had never been to the Auvergne or Prague. I visited both places while writing the book, and in both cases it was a bit like traveling in time to walk village lanes, old pilgrim roads, and twisting city streets while imagining Diana and Matthew at my side.
Did you have an idea or an outline for Shadow of Night when you were writing A Discovery of Witches? Did the direction change once you sat down to write it?
I didn’t outline either book in the traditional sense. In both cases I knew what some of the high points were and how the plot moved towards the conclusion, but there were some significant changes during the revision process. This was especially true for Shadow of Night, although most of those changes involved moving specific pieces of the plot forward or back to improve the momentum and flow.
A Discovery of Witches begins with Diana Bishop stumbling across a lost, enchanted manuscript called Ashmole 782 in Oxford’s Bodleian Library, whose secrets Diana and Matthew are still trying to uncover in Shadow of Night. You had a similar experience while you were completing your dissertation. What was the story behind your discovery? And how did it inspire the creation of these novels?
I did discover a manuscript—not an enchanted one, alas—in the Bodleian Library. It was a manuscript owned by Queen Elizabeth’s astrologer, the mathematician and alchemist John Dee. In the 1570s and 1580s he became interested in using a crystal ball to talk to angels. The angels gave him all kinds of instructions on how to manage his life at home, his work—they even told him to pack up his family and belongings and go to far-away Poland and Prague. In the conversations, Dee asked the angels about a mysterious book in his library called “the Book of Soyga” or “Aldaraia.” No one had ever been able to find it, even though many of Dee’s other books survive in libraries throughout the world. In the summer of 1994 I was spending time in Oxford between finishing my doctorate and starting my first job. It was a wonderfully creative time, since I had no deadlines to worry about and my dissertation on Dee’s angel conversations was complete. As with most discoveries, this discovery of a “lost” manuscript was entirely accidental. I was looking for something else in the Bodleian’s catalogue and in the upper corner of the page was a reference to a book called “Aldaraia.” I knew it couldn’t be Dee’s book, but I called it up anyway. And it turned out it WAS the book (or at least a copy of it). With the help of the Bodleian’s Keeper of Rare Books, I located another copy in the British Library.
Are there other lost books like this in the world?
Absolutely! Entire books have been written about famous lost volumes—including works by Plato, Aristotle, and Shakespeare to name just a few. Libraries are full of such treasures, some of them unrecognized and others simply misfiled or mislabeled. And we find lost books outside of libraries, too. In January 2006, a completely unknown manuscript belonging to one of the 17th century’s most prominent scientists, Robert Hooke, was discovered when someone was having the contents of their house valued for auction. The manuscript included minutes of early Royal Society meetings that we presumed were lost forever.
Unlike Twilight’s Bella and Edward—hormonal teenagers who meet in the halls of a high school—your leading characters Matthew and Diana are established academics who meet in the library of one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world. This is a world where vampires and witches drink wine together, practice yoga and discuss philosophy. Are these characters based on something you found missing in the fantasy genre?
There are a lot of adults reading young adult books, and for good reason. Authors who specialize in the young adult market are writing original, compelling stories that can make even the most cynical grownups believe in magic. In writing A Discovery of Witches, I wanted to give adult readers a world no less magical, no less surprising and delightful, but one that included grown-up concerns and activities. These are not your children’s vampires and witches.
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