A week after the Cruise, back in Raleigh, on a Saturday night I began to feel an ache in my right side. Familiar, the ache had a familiar feel; something from the shadow of my past. I went to bed and awoke to searing, jabbing pain moving through my right side.
It’s serious when it hurts to breathe, but I thought I knew what was going on, so I went to Mission Valley CupAJoes for breakfast. I looked terrible, bent over, walking like a zombie, sometimes gasping for air. Looking at me with alarm in his eyes, I had to assure Dave that I was not dying. I got coffee, juice and a breakfast sandwich. I ate. Then, I made my way to the emergency room. In constant pain, I was under the watchful eyes of Dr. Pleasant.
Yep, I am not making that up; Dr. Pleasant. When this young, white woman introduced herself, I looked up at her and said nothing. Despite the pain I was in, I smiled. She said, “I know… you can’t make this stuff up.”
For the next five hours, I was under the care of Dr. Pleasant and her nurses. I thought I knew what was going on, but because I have had a blood clot with pulmonary embolism in the past, many tests had to be run. Blood was drawn, EKG, nuclear breathing tests of my lungs to search for a blood clot.
No matter because I was kept by the good company of the atmosphere of Elizabethan London, the School of Night, Matthew, a thousand year old Vampire, Diana, his wife, who is a modern day woman and scholar, who is also learning that she is the kind of Witch who spins time. I was reading the second book in Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy. The first book was “A Discovery of Witches,” a compelling, multilayered, metaphysical-historical fiction.
After reading and being overtaken by that discovery of witches in the summer of 2011, I was upset to realize that “A Discovery of Witches” was part of a trilogy and that the second book was not due for another year. Now summer 2012, the second book, “Shadow of Night,” is published and the story has blown me away. No it is not the kind of book that stops real physical pain. I have never found such a book. But yes it is the kind of book that helps you hold pain at bay by giving you a delicious story on which to concentrate.
Diana and Matthew have gone back in time to search of an ancient text that might explain the origin of creatures (Witches, Vampires, Daemons). Imagine being in Elizabethan London in the company of Christopher Marlowe (a daemon), Walter Raleigh (a human), walking the rough, muddy, streets of that London, and meeting royalty because your husband, your Vampire is a spy for the queen. He is Shadow.
Imagine too that it is in this time you have available to you a cadre of witches (Goody Alsop being one) who can teach you about your powers and your true identity as a creature. And imagine too the possibility of a child conceived of the union of a powerful, unexpectedly humane (yet to be feared) vampire Matthew and the modern witch-woman Diana he truly loves. It is Matthew, the Vampire, who speaks of what a child needs. He says: “All a child needs is love, an adult to take responsibility for them, and a soft place to land.”
No wonder that Diana is drawn to him. No less because of her own fierce, independent spirit. Diana is a scholar in search of ancient secrets, and she is possibly one of the most unique witches of all time.
Now you’ve got yourself a story, an adventure, and one that is in the hands of a true writer and storyteller. Pain or no, that’s good company.
Oh, about that pain. I was right. Pleurisy. Look it up.