OurBookClub


Shadow of Night
A Discovery of Witches

Shadow of Night by Deborah HarknessBook Cover of Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

"Together we lifted our feet and stepped into the unknown"—the thrilling sequel to the New York Times bestseller A Discovery of Witches. Deborah Harkness exploded onto the literary scene with her debut novel, A Discovery of Witches, Book One of the magical "All Souls Trilogy" and an international publishing phenomenon. The novel introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and the handsome geneticist and vampire Matthew Clairmont; together they found themselves at the center of a supernatural battle over an enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782. Now, picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh. Here, Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens. Deborah Harkness has crafted a gripping journey through a world of alchemy, time travel, and magical discoveries, delivering one of the most hotly anticipated novels of the season. Click here to read the full book review.


1. Harkness opens Shadow of Night with a quote by Queen Elizabeth I. How is the quote significant to the book?
2. The Elizabethan era is made vivid in the novel through the everyday details that Diana must contend with. What did you find most surprising, funny, or intriguing about life in the sixteenth century?
3. When Diana arrives in 1590, she is thrilled to experience firsthand a world that she had studied as a historian. If you could go back in time, what era would you visit? What would you do while there?
4. There is no question that Matthew is a compelling character, but is he a traditional romantic hero? Compare him with some of your favorite leading men in literature.
5. Who were the School of Night? What is the meaning behind the title Shadow of Night?
6. In Shadow of Night Harkness cheekily refers to Shakespeare’s plays without naming them. Can you recognize which work she’s referring to?
7. What does Diana learn about the materials used to make Ashmole 782?
8. If Shadow of Night was a film, which celebrities would you cast in the starring roles?
9. Did you read A Discovery of Witches? If so, in what ways has Diana changed since the last novel? If not, how did your own opinion about Diana change through the course of the book?
10. A Discovery of Witches ended with a cliffhanger. At the end of Shadow of Night, what do you think lies ahead?

These questions are provided by the Publisher.

Buy Now

Back to top


A Discovery of Witches by Deborah HarknessBook Cover of A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together. Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell. Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism. (From the publisher). Click here to read the full book review.


1. Diana's mother says that fear is "the strongest force on earth" (p.5). What does she mean? Do you agree?
2. Early in the novel, Harkness describes the typical personalities and physical traits of daemons, witches, and vampires. If you could be any one of these beings, which would you choose and why?
3. Who is the Congregation? Is it a force for good or a force for evil?
4. What happened to Diana's parents? What were they trying to hide?
5. Diana studies alchemy, which she defines as a type of "science with magic" (p. 73) used to explore and understand unexplained phenomena. Do you use astrology, fortune-telling, or ESP to provide a deeper understanding of events in your own life?
6. Why is Diana and Matthew's love forbidden? Have you ever loved someone whom your family or friends thought was inappropriate? How did their reaction influence your feelings?
7. Most of the book is told from Diana's perspective, yet a few chapters are written in the third person. Why? What feature or purpose unites those chapters?
8. Diana and Matthew travel back to the sixteenth century. If you had the power to time walk, as she does, what period in history would you visit?
9. In chapter 31, Diana remembers the bedtime story her mother told her as a child. In what ways does that story foreshadow the events of Diana's life?
10. Harkness presents the use of witchcraft not only as an otherworldly ability but also as a part of everyday life; for example, Diana uses a spell to fix her washing machine. Which example of the novel's blending of the magical with the mundane did you find most entertaining or creative? If you could use magic in your daily life, what would you use it for?
11. Look at the last page of the book. What is the significance of the blood and mercury? What is the reason behind the sense of relief felt in the house? What does the last sentence of the book mean?

These questions are provided by the Publisher.

Buy Now

Back to top