Book Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

download (3)A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Release Date: February 2011
Publisher: Viking Publishing
Pages: 579
Price: $17.00

“Turn to me with all your heart. Do not refuse me because I am dark and shadowed. The fire of the sun has altered me. The seas have encompassed me. The earth has been corrupted because of my work. Night fell over the earth when I sank into the miry deep, and my substance was hidden. From the depths of the water I cried out to you, and from the depths of the earth I will call to those who pass by me. Watch for me. See me. And if you find another who is like me, I will give him the morning star.”

Diana Bishop is a young scholar who spends her days analyzing old texts deep within Oxfords Bodleian Library. Except, Diana isn’t just an American scholar studying across the pond—she’s a witch with a long line of Bishop witches before her. Wanting nothing to do with magic, witchcraft, or the world enveloping the supernatural, Diana resends an enchanted manuscript that appears to her in the library. Thinking nothing of it, Diana returns to her studies until strange things begin happening. The magical underworld is stirring with news of the manuscript appearing to a witch; vampires, daemons, and other witches begin showing up at the library in hoards—hoping for a glimpse of the long rumored manuscript. Among the newcomers is Matthew Clairmont, a vampire with a curiosity about the book that quickly evolves into an interest in Diana.

When her life is threatened over the appearance of the manuscript, Diana requires Matthew’s help to shield her from the danger. Fleeing to the French countryside, Diana learns things about Matthew’s past and makes decisions that alter her future, and the future of the other magical creatures around her. Diana has powers within her that no one could have expected. Powers that are triggered without the slightest thought. Having sworn against any type of magic, Diana struggles with the growing need to use them as her powers slip out of her with little to no control.

When rules from the past begin to protrude into her life, Diana must make a choice between the man she has come to love and the danger surrounding her loved ones. Despite the magic flowing through the air, not everyone is safe and the danger pushes Diana through time and space to make things right.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It had been sitting on my shelf for a few years and every time I went to go read it, I couldn’t get myself to start it. So I placed it back on the shelf, telling myself that it just wasn’t its time yet. Low and behold, its time came when I pick it up a little under two weeks ago and quickly drank it in until there was no more. The entire story is exceptional and interesting, bound with history and lore. The characters themselves are extremely unique and have quirks that add to their presence on the page. I have to be honest when I say that I wasn’t exactly thrilled by the prospect of a vampire love story. I went through my Twilight phase as a teenager and I am happy to have passed that time in my life. With that being said, it was notably different and much more interesting. Granted, there was a fair amount of moodiness that was hard to keep up with at times, which was my main complaint for the book. Matthew could be a tad controlling, and for me, almost borderline emotionally abusive at times. I know his controlling nature was due to his long existence, but it could have been toned down quite a lot. Moving on from this fact, the plot was dense with history and interwoven beautifully with the story that Harkness created. I’m thrilled to continue on to the next book in the trilogy and I can’t wait to have the other two books in my hands.




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