I loved Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness. It is the second book in her All Souls Trilogy. This picks up where A Discovery of Witches left off. Matthew and Diana have traveled back to Elizabeth I's England to avoid the Congregation, and to find a witch to teach Diana.
I haven't read very many time travel books: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, and maybe The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. There are a lot of similarities between Shadow of Night, Outlander, and Doomsday Book. I would say the big difference in Shadow of Night was that the historical setting was almost a chance for the author to "meet" some of her heroes of the era.
Where Outlander is mostly about how a post-WWII British nurse is able to survive in late 1700s Scotland, and eventually America. The historical detail is amazing and really puts the reader in the 1700s. There are some real historical figures who appear in the Outlander series, but the story mostly revolves around a couple who are on the fringes of history, just trying to live their life.
Doomsday Book also allows the reader to feel what it would be like to travel to England in the 1300s. It took a much smaller view, limited to one small village, with much detail. The main drive of the story in Doomsday Book is the juxtaposition of a medieval epidemic with a modern epidemic.
Shadow of Night seems to rely mostly on the use of historical figures to put the reader in the correct time period. There are a few instances where Harkness mentions that 1500s England is different than our historian Diana had expected. The main point of Shadow of Night is to give our heroes a little breathing room to sort out some of their demons and learn about the manuscript that has been the driving force behind the story.
I enjoyed the book, it was hard to put down, which is always a problem when the book is long. I had two nights of turning in at 4AM while trying to finish this one. I like Matthew and Diana, and while there were a few parts that had me wanting to smack one or both of them, overall they are fantastic characters. I enjoyed the little exchange about vampires in modern fiction and their appeal to teenagers and housewives.
I'm going to give Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness, 5 stars.
Next up: Supernatural Born Killers by Casey Daniels
and The Smile of a Ghost (Merrily Watkins #7) by Phil Rickman