Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Posted June 25, 2014 by Charlotte in Reviews / 5 Comments

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah HarknessA Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Series: All Souls Trilogy #1
Published by Headline on September 29, 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Romance
Pages: 688
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
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Fall under the spell of Diana and Matthew in the stunning first volume of the No.1 internationally bestsellling ALL SOULS trilogy.
A world of witches, daemons and vampires. A manuscript which holds the secrets of their past and the key to their future. Diana and Matthew - the forbidden love at the heart of it.
When historian Diana Bishop opens an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it's an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life. Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent death of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft. Now Diana has unwittingly exposed herself to a world she's kept at bay for years; one of powerful witches, creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires. Sensing the significance of Diana's discovery, the creatures gather in Oxford, among them the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire genticist. Diana is inexplicably drawn to Matthew and, in a shadowy world of half-truths and old enmities, ties herself to him without fully understanding the ancient line they are crossing. As they begin to unlock the secrets of the manuscript and their feelings for each other deepen, so the fragile balance of peace unravels...

Having read A Discovery of Witches, it is impossible to not compare to its predecessor – Twilight – there are bountiful opportunities to see the similarities as well as the differences. But note that this is a novel for adults, Twilight‘s audience was pre-dominantly pre-teen.

Diana is a strong, independent protagonist, while Matthew is the typical brooding over-protective vampire – but Diana does not let this get in her way. She is determined to remain in control and not reliant on other people.

Matthew, despite appearances, does have elements of becoming an appealing character. Whose mysterious past provides an intriguing element for both Diana and the reader.

Matthew and Diana’s love affair is passionate and something which is forbidden. But despite this passion and obvious attraction between the two protagonists, their relationship follows a strict moral code from earlier times. Diana and Matthew will do anything for the ones their love, even if it means stepping into the danger.

The secondary characters are as lovely and believable as the two protagonists. You can not help but get attached to them. The affection or disdain for the secondary characters is echoed not only in the readers opinion but also that of Diana.

The plot does start a little slowly, with all the details about Oxford and Diana’s life to process; as well as all the intricate detail about alchemy and the mysterious manuscript all the creatures seem interested in. However, the plot is tightly linked with Diana’s thoughts and knowledge. The reader only knows what Diana knows and learns only when Diana receives new information. This enables an element of suspense as significant details are slowly revealed.

A Discovery of Witches is a beautiful mixture of imagination mixed with historical fact. Allowing for historical fact to be effortlessly woven into the story. This is a fast-paced story that effortlessly takes the reader along for the ride.

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5 responses to “Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

  1. I give you props for getting through this one. It was just too slow for me. It’s sitting in a stack of other books, gathering dust, since I abandoned it at around page 100. I did notice the Twilight similarities, but that wasn’t what bothered me. I got so frustrated with Diana repeatedly going to the library and not checking out that special book. It felt so dragged out that I ultimately lost interest.

    • Haha thanks, the best book of this series is the last one, perhaps surprisingly!

      I guess it was slightly dragged out, but for me it wasn’t really a problem because sometimes when I go to the library I can’t check out a book because it’s special, been highly recommended, I’m afraid that I will be in for a disappointment. I mean, what if I was wrong about the book? And I guess that may be what Diana was feeling at the time. But I could be wrong.

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