Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Book Review: A Discovery of Witches

In addition to my office book club, I also participate in a book club with some girlfriends, but because of our wedding and then busy summer schedules, last weekend was the first time I saw them in a really long time. However, I've always made a point to read all of the books they selected, even when I couldn't come to the meeting. The only one I missed completing in a timely manner was A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, but I finally finished it this week!

A Discovery of Witches is the first novel in the All Souls Trilogy, which follows the story of Diana Bishop, a historian and reluctant witch, as she solves the mystery of Ashmole 782, falls in love with a mysterious vampire named Matthew Clairmont, and learns how powerful it can be to accept who you are (according to the web site).

I really enjoyed this book, which begins in a library in Oxford where Diana, a young scholar, unknowingly calls up a bewitched manuscript in the course of her research. Although Diana is descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, she wants nothing to do with magic, so although she recognizes that the book is enchanted, she sends it back to the stacks. But her discovery sets in motion a horde of daemons, witches and vampires who descend on her, intent to get their hands on the manuscript, which has been lost for centuries. One of these creatures is Matthew, a professor of biochemistry and a vampire, with whom Diana falls quickly and deeply in love.

This is an addictive read that combines history, magic, romance and suspense. The characters are compelling and likable, although I sometimes wished Diana was a bolder heroine (she spends a fair amount of time swooning and moping for someone who supposedly possesses incredible powers). Matthew followed the typical outline of a modern day vampire, with his pale, cold skin, impressive strength and speed, and secretive personality. He quickly falls for Diana and begins to exhibits ridiculous, over-the-top protective instincts that sometimes made me cringe (forcing her to eat, lie down, or refrain from jumping a fence with a horse), but overall Matthew was a pretty likable character.

The book was a suspenseful page turner until the end, where the reader is left with a cliff hanger, which I found somewhat annoying since I don't have time to read the second book in the trilogy right now. But overall I think A Discovery of Witches is a fun, well-written book and I'd definitely recommend it.


  1. Sounds interesting, I'll have to check it out! Have a great Thanksgiving - drive safe down to Vancouver - we're heading down tomorrow morning!

  2. It does sound interesting! That's the main reason I haven't joined a book club, while i'm a fairly fast reader I just am not prioritising it these days and thus it takes me FOREVER to read a single book!

  3. I JUST finished this! Not my usual cup of tea, but it was a fun October/Halloween read. :)

  4. That sounds like an interesting read! Thanks for the recommendation!

  5. I read this too! I've been meaning to read the second one! I liked it, the settings were the best part, now I want to go to that library, but I totally agree, I wish she was a stronger woman, the writer was saying it was a grown-up vampire love story with a heroine with qualities she would have wanted.. but I thought she was kind of just swooning a lot too! i'm not much for sappy love stories though!


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