On Hist Fic Revisited
Let's step back to ...1590
In light of Season 2 of Discovery of Witches starting on Sky 1 last night I thought that I would revisit my original review of Shadow of Night the book on which this second series is based. As with all screen adaptations there have bound to be some changes to the original which is, after all, quite a hefty read. However, after watching the first episode on TV last night I was relieved to find that Matthew de Clairmont's and Diana Bishop's visit to Elizabethan London has been done with a wonderful eye for historical detail and a definite air of authenticity.
It's always a worry when a favourite book series is brought to life just in case the characters fail to live up to expectations, and season two has some iconic figures who I'm really looking forward to seeing on screen. Gallowglass, one of my favourite characters from Shadow of Night, makes his first appearance soon so I'm really looking forward to watching actor, Steven Cree, bring him to life. The enigmatic Christopher Marlowe, who has such a dark presence in the story, came to life, last night, in Tom Hugh's brooding performance. And of course, it goes without saying that to see Matthew and Diana step into London in 1590 and don their Elizabethan costume is a real treat, I can't wait to see how the story of my imagination comes to life.
I could so easily have binge watched the whole ten episodes of season two last night but I'm determined to eke out the enjoyment over the next week or so, after all what better to while away lockdown, than to escape to a fantasy world of Witches, Vampires and Daemons in Elizabeth England.
“Together we lifted our feet and stepped into the unknown”
At the start of Shadow of Night, Matthew de Clairmont and Diana Bishop, time walk back to sixteenth century England in order to discover more about the mysterious manuscript, Ashmole 782, which featured so predominantly in A Discovery of Witches.
Fraught with danger, and malicious intrigue, their search is never going to be uncomplicated, as 1500 year old vampire Matthew, already familiar with Elizabethan England, must stand back and watch Diana take her first tentative steps in learning her skill in witchcraft. In an age where superstition and malevolent conspiracy is rife, Matthew and Diana must first learn to negotiate through a social and political minefield. It is interesting to observe how this formidable combination of witch and vampire coalesce into a fascinating portrayal of an unconventional relationship.
In this second volume of the All Soul’s Trilogy, Deborah Harkness has used her undoubted skill as a historian to successfully recreate the world of Elizabethan England. She has combined the fascinating and troubled history of the sixteenth century, with a believable and often mesmerising view of the parallel world of vampires, daemons, and witches and interspersing the story with real historical figures is inspired, and gives a real insight into the period, and makes the story believable.
There is always the possibility that book two in a series will be less powerful than the first novel, rest easy, there is no such problem with Shadow of Night. If anything, this book is even better than the first, and whilst there is a tendency to want to read all 592 pages in one sitting, this is definitely one of those books which is better savoured, and enjoyed slowly.
Deborah Harkness is the number one Sunday Times bestselling author of A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night and The Book of Life. A history professor at the University of Southern California, Harkness has received Fulbright, Guggenheim, and National Humanities Center fellowships.
Twitter @DebHarkness #ADiscoveryofWitchesS2