A Discovery of Witches
by Deborah Harkness
Overview (from Goodreads): 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: Witches. Vampires. Magic. Books. The library. I didn’t really need a whole lot of incentive to pick up A Discovery of Witches, but the icing on the cake was reading the review from BookJunkieKrystal @ Books Are My Thing. It’s hard to ignore a recommendation from someone whose bookish opinion you trust. I was a little weary of the length and it’s part of a trilogy (all 3 books are on the long side), but I got past it.
The main character, Diana is pretty interesting. I didn’t really understand her need to ignore her magic, but then again I grew up reading Harry Potter (and wanted a Hogwarts letter like everyone else). For the most part, I really liked Diana. She definitely had moments where she was either playing the self-righteously angry victim or the helpless damsel in distress. When she went to either extreme is when I got very annoyed with her.
Matthew and Diana together were great. In the beginning their exchanges were kind of funny, I’m not sure if they were meant to be. The only thing that confused me was that their relationship went from zero to sixty in about 4 seconds. Ultimately I overlooked it and in the grand scheme of things it was pretty minor.
The story itself was pretty darn amazing. It was so detailed. It was a bit complicated, but not hard to follow. It is definitely not a light read and you’ll need to engage your brain for this one if you want to enjoy it. It was a bit long and there were probably a few trivial things that could’ve been edited out. I do remember thinking, “I’m confused. That seems like a great place to end A Discovery of Witches, but I still have over 100 pages to go.”
I really enjoyed A Discovery of Witches. I actually described it to a friend as, “what would happen if Hermione hadn’t found out she was a brilliant witch until she was in her late 20s.” She’s been reading A Discovery of Witches and the last time we talked about it she was loving it. So if you’re into history, alchemy, witches and you don’t mind a long, heavier read, A Discovery of Witches is definitely for you.
4 out of 5 Bookmarks = It was sooooo good and I can’t wait to start Shadow of Night!