A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Published February 8th, 2011

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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.


I have to admit, this book caught me by surprise.  I’m usually not someone who gets into the mainstream best seller books.  I much prefer the hidden gems that the rest of the world hasn’t discovered yet.  But people have kept telling me to read this book, so I eventually gave in.

I should point out that this is not YA.  While not overly adult, the main characters are in their 30s.  This is a very smart book.  The book has a lot of historical elements, and goes through a lot of detail.  Its historical fiction meets paranormal setting is reminiscent of The Historian by Elizabeth Kostovo, without having the Historian’s ability to put me to sleep.

Truthfully, the book started a little slow.  Because of the great amount of detail included it took me about the first 80ish pages to get into the story, but once I was familiar with the characters and the setting, I got lost in the wonderful story.  Diana is a smart, charming heroine, and not just because she shares me name.  And I truly fell in love with Matthew.  Tall, dark, and handsome vampire surrounded in charm and mystery, but caring and sweet, with just the right amount of protectiveness and alpha male.  I mean seriously, what’s not to love?  I’m smitten.

Overall, this was a wonderful book that took me a few pages to get into, but once it got started it was easy to ignore the extra details.  The characters were great and the story was original.  Book 2 in the trilogy, Shadow of Night, comes out July 10th, so in under a month, and I am sure to be picking it up.

5 thoughts on “A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

  1. Thanks for the comments! I’m actually surprised by how much I ended up loving the book based on how slow it started. I at first considered giving up and putting it down, and it ended up being one I couldn’t put down if I tried.


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