Sunday, August 12, 2012

Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Title: A Discovery of Witches (All Souls trilogy book# 1)
Author: Deborah Harkness
Pages: 579 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult
Published on: February 8th 2011
Source: Bought from Fully Booked
Buy the book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

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.
(Summary from Goodreads)


A Discovery of Witches starts with Diana a witch/historian from America, finding Ashmole 782, an alchemical manuscript that is basically the book that started it all (the story and the creatures in it.) And after Diana returns the manuscript to library, even a huge part of her was telling her not to, she still does and a flurry of incidents happen after. I really love the effort Harkness put into writing the details of the books in her story. Harkness really has a talent when it comes to describing places or details and it made the book all the more enjoyable. I will admit that A Discovery of Witches is kind of long and gets a bit too wordy but I felt like it really suited the book in the end. There was a sense of completeness when I read it because of the detailed accounts of the places, books and happenings.

Matthew Clairmont didn’t just capture Diana’s heart he latched onto mine as well. He’s a perfect mixture of conflicted and resolved, he was a man who knew what he wanted but had demons that kept him away from it. Harkness puts into great detail the way she creates her characters because Matthew wasn’t just a vampire, he was a real person with different likes and dislikes, so I really appreciated how she solidifies them. I also really liked the way Diana and Matthew’s relationship budded between them, it wasn’t hurried or cheesy and that made it all the more enjoyable and “aww”-worthy. The fact the Matthew is a fifteen hundred-year-old vampire made for a lot secrets and revelations. As the story progresses, you will see a lot of them seams tying the plot together, unravel. A lot very important facts and events will be revealed and those parts of the books were really fun and intriguing. There was definitely a lot of drama between Matthew and Diana and that made their romance so realistic (even if Matthew was a vampire), because the biggest road-block in their relationship was trust, whether both of them could actually bare themselves to each other and be honest. Their romance was sweet, passionate and heated; three things we all want in our romances.

This was one of my favorite parts of the book, when they met Matthew’s maker/mother, Ysabeau. I really liked that fact that she had a strong loathing for witches and that made her reaction to Diana all the more interesting. It was one of the biggest conflicts because Diana had to be on her guard at all times due to the fact that she didn’t know whether Ysabeau would pounce on her and rip her throat out or not. Ysabeau was one of my favorite characters in A Discovery of Witches not just because she was badass character but also because of her fierce protectiveness towards her children. Though she was cunning and honestly, frightening she was still one of my favorite characters because of how Harkness constructed her as a mother, vampire and protector.

I can honestly say that I wasn’t really affected by the cliffhanger at the end of the book… Probably because I had Shadow of Night (the second book) sitting on my nightstand, so I wasn’t really worried. But I have feeling had I read the book last year that I’d probably be pissed at the ending too. The ending of A Discovery of Witches literally gave me goose-bumps and got my spine all tingley. The ending was perfect and it will really leave you wondering, “What will happen next?” It was both satisfying and not enough at the same time. Deborah Harkness crafts a world where you will be left breathless and exhilarated due to its stunning detail and expert construction. A Discovery of Witches is a definite treat for those looking for excitement and mystique and an insanely satisfying read.


(I would like to give a special mention to Nancy from A Lush Budget Production: Tales of a Ravenous Reader for being an awesome person and, not literally speaking, holding my hand as I was reading A Discovery of Witches. Thanks, Nancy! You rock!)


  1. I reviewed this a while back and I also loved it!

    I'm a new follower.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. It's amazing! Quite long but every detail counts and the story is just phenomenal. I hope you love it!