Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

December 26, 2011

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

(All Souls Trilogy #1)

Hardcover, 579 pages
Published February 8th 2011 by Viking Adult

Rating:   4 Stars


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.
My Thoughts:

I have to say that when I first got this book I had never heard of it before. I was at my library looking through my new book section, thought it looked interesting, and took it home. It really was a pleasant surprise to realise that I had found a little treasure trove of awesomeness in the novel I had picked up. Granted, it did take me a while to finish (it's pretty big), but I finished it none less. Diana, a powerful witch who refuses to use her powers, teams up with Matthew Clairmont to protect an old book that may hide the key to not only vampire's existence, but for witches and dameons alike. 

It really was a great book with a really interesting plot. There's just enough of romance and really juicy historical facts to keep you going and the many characters are always nice. It does have some downers, like the fact that the ending leaves you hanging and the fact that there are moments in the book that make you want to throw in down or fall asleep. But I think because it's so large it makes up for its disappointments. 

What I liked about it:
  • The Story. It was really different from anything that I had read recently and definitely refreshing. I like to think that there really are witches and vampires out there.
  • The Romance. Diana and Matthew have that romance that we all want to have. If they ever make this into a movie I nominate Richard Armitage for Matthew!
  • The History. Considering that the author's a history professor at USC, the stuff in the novel was really interesting and I could relate a lot of what was mentioned with the knowledge of the time period they spoke of.
  • The Characters. There were so many and each was a interesting as the next with rich history (the main characters anyways).

What I didn't like about it:
  • The "In-between" Scenes. Between the main events of the little multiple climaxes of the story there seemed to be resting periods for the characters. Not that I mind, but simply nothing happened and there didn't seem to be much plot development. There's only so much I can take of horse back riding.
  • The Minor Characters. There were some really interesting people that never got to be explored. 
  • The Yoga. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against it. But there's so much of it and it does nothing for the story. It's like the author just put it there so she could introduce new settings.
  • The French. Because some of the characters are french the author felt like it would be cool to write some of the passages in french. Now, I take french in school, but I still had to visit Google Translate for some of the lengthier passages.
  • The Kidnapping. You'd think in a house full of vampires and witches she wouldn't get kidnapped. 
Should You Read it?
If you're in for a long read that's filled with romance, historical tidbits, and an interesting story line, that go for it. 

Cover Rating:  3.5 Stars
Not the prettiest thing out there, but it does grab you attention.


Anonymous said...

Hi there! Join our Crusade! We are huge fans of the series and we are heading up a campaign to get Richard Armitage Cast as Matthew Clairmont. Visit our site, and help us make this happen! :) Give us a like on FB and follow us on twitter too. :) Nice review!

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