Sometimes the second installment in a book trilogy can be the black sheep of the series, but Shadow of the Night is not that kind of installment. This is the second book in the "All Souls" trilogy series written by historian Deborah Harkness, with these books being set almost entirely in the 16th century and the occasional flash forward to the "present" day. This book was a little difficult for me to get into at first, with the complete change in setting and rush of new characters being thrown at me within the first 100 pages, but I imagine that's exactly how Diana Bishop felt when she left her time to venture to 1593 with Matthew Clairmont, who's already lived through this time period. I felt Diana's frustrations throughout the entire book, whether it was her modern feminist ways conflicting with 16th century sexist concepts or when she felt at conflict with Matthew during the beginnings of their marriage. But by the time the book was concluding and the couple were preparing to return to present day, I couldn't be more proud of Diana's empowering character development: gone is the magic-less damsel in distress she started out as in the first installment as she has been reborn as a fierce, powerful spell caster with her own fricken' DRAGON (I know, technically it's a firedrake). And Matthew's character evolves nicely, too; he grows to understand that Diana is not some fragile victim and truly sees her an equal in their relationship. It was a nice change from most of these vampire/fantasy series: the male protagonist honestly respects his lover instead of constantly being over-protective and aggressive. I was so eager to read the final installment that I bought the third book the same day I finished this one!
I highly recommend this series to book lovers who are die hard vampire-love-story fans but wish for a more grown-up tale. ~ Reviewed by Kirstin Swartz