Monday, February 12, 2018

Book Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Pages: 579
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: February 8, 2011
Publisher: Penguin
Source: Library
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says,"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's the only creature who can break its spell."

Diana Bishop, a professor and scholar, is doing some research at Oxford.  Diana isn't your run-of-the-mill history buff though; she's a witch.  She comes from a long line of witches, but Diana doesn't practice witchcraft; in fact, she avoids it at all costs despite her family's wishes for her to at least be familiar with her powers. While at Oxford, she comes across an enchanted book that obviously has some type of spell on it, but it doesn't pique her interest initially. However, the same can't be said of the other paranormal creatures lurking in Oxford. They are VERY interested in this manuscript. Ever since Diana found this book in the library, there's been other witches, demons, and even vampires trying to engage with her. What secrets are hidden in this book? Enter another scholar, Matthew Clairmont, who is not only very smart, but he's also a vampire. Yes, a vampire.   But he isn't your usual dangerous vampire, if you will, but instead he wants to help Diana figure out what secrets the manuscript holds.  Once they start working together an entire adventure ensues in A Discovery of Witches that includes a lot of historical details, romance, paranormal elements, and lots of magic.  Despite my annoyance with the fact that this book had a vampire in it (I am SO over them!), I loved it!

Diana Bishop is my kind of character. in A Discovery of Witches. I love a smart character that is into nerdy things (she practically lives at Oxford's Library!), is stubborn, strong, and cares about her family.  Diana's past is a bit sad though; readers will find out what happened to her parents, who are also witches, and why she grew up with her aunt as her guardian.  I loved her interest in history and her extensive knowledge of alchemy, but she did frustrate me regarding her "magic." She really didn't want anything to do with her powers as witch; that is, until she finds herself in the front row of a paranormal dilemma and other paranormal creatures coming out of the woodwork.  

That's where Matthew enters in A Discovery of Witches. I really enjoyed his character as well and I liked learning more about his past. I will have to admit that I sort of hated myself for liking a vampire. I mean I am SO OVER vampire stories. I am not trying to be a book snob or anything, but I thought I was done with all of that. Until Matthew. What a fun character! I could have done without his possessiveness, but I truly loved Diana and Matthew's budding relationship.  A witch and a vampire? It can work!

The historical details in A Discovery of Witches were absolutely fantastic. That is definitely what sets this book apart from other paranormal fantasies. Harkness is a professor of history and you can really tell when reading her novel. All of her historical tidbits truly shine through the story in every aspect. The book is chock full of interesting facts and descriptions of the past that will be sure to keep fans of historical fiction totally engaged. 

I loved the magical world that Harkness created as well. One of my favorite parts of the story was when Diana learned more about her magic (hello, Hogwarts!), and connected with her aunt and visited her childhood home. Can I just say that I want to live at her house --it's so, so cool! I haven't enjoyed a witchy story like this since Harry Potter.

So, don't be silly like me and postpone reading A Discovery of Witches, because you think you are over vampire stories. A Discovery of Witches is so much more than a vampire or witch novel; you won't be disappointed. I was thoroughly entertained and I can't wait to continue with the series. Also, I am ecstatic that this book is also being made into a TV show with Matthew Goode as Matthew Clarimont. I can't wait! 


  1. This author graduated from the college across the street from my bookstore and we’ve hosted her many times -- she’s a really lovely person AND is also a history professor herself, so you can count on accuracy for her period detail. I somehow skipped the first two books and jumped right into the conclusion of the trilogy when I received a free audio book from the publisher, but one of these days I hope to go back and start reading it properly.

    1. That is so cool! I bet she would be a really interesting author to listen to. I hope you get to read the other books in the series. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I've been tempted to read this series before, but your review definitely has me wanting to reach for it right now!

    1. I think you'd like it, Becky! I definitely thought I wouldn't enjoy it (b/c vampires - ugh!), but it was so much fun! You'd like the witchy aspect too. Thanks for visiting!


I really appreciate your comments. Thank you!

Design by: Designer Blogs