Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

From the Publisher-

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.


Here’s what I think…

Let me start by telling you straight up that I loved this book from beginning to end. Loved it. I can’t  wait for the sequel. 2012 can’t get here fast enuff for me. This is a love, adventure, history and more story with vampires, witches and daemons in today’s world.  The very 1st thing I want to applaud is the dust cover because for me it’s important. It’s what draws my attention to a book when I’m scoping out new reads in a bookstore, online, or in a library, and to be honest sometimes I think publishers don’t pay enuff attention to it. I like this one. A lot. I like the colors and the symbols, and the text they used. This cover made me interested in what was inside. There’s even a picture on the spine.  So kudo’s to the designer TAL GORETSKY  for this one.

Ok let’s get down to the good stuff. 1st off DoW has great characters. The 2 major players are Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont. I’ll begin with Diana. It took me awhile to become friends with Diana. Perhaps it was her reserve, or maybe I found her a bit too stubborn in the beginning, but as the story developed I became genuinely fond of her. It’s hard to love a book if you can’t connect emotionally with the heroine so I’m glad I got beyond my initial reaction to her. She’s an American witch who rarely ever uses her magic mainly because of a tragedy that took place when she was just 7. As she grows up and enters the world of academia  she wants to earn her place in the world rather than using magic to obtain it. However, magic is seeping out of Diana and she doesn’t know how to control it. Yet.  She’s a visiting scholar preparing for a conference when she sets the underworld of daemons, witches, and vampires into a tailspin with the discovery of a “lost” manuscript in Oxford, England.  It’s in the Bodleian Library where Diana 1st meets Matthew Clairmont a vampire who is a renowned professor.

Matthew’s All Soul’s Lodge

Even tho I didn’t know whether he was good or bad, or whether I could trust him I connected with Matthew from the time he was 1st introduced. Ms. Harkness tells you immediately that he’s a vampire and I appreciated that. Sometimes I think authors in the paranormal genre like to tease this out for too long, and I find it distracting after awhile. Is he…isn’t he…?  Matthew is highly intelligent, and as described… just my type…tall, broad shouldered, dark haired and very good looking. He’s French and as with most vampires of course he smells yummy too. He also has a quick temper, lots of money, exquisite taste in wine, and a conscious.  1 more thing…he does yoga. What’s not to love?

Diana’s discovery of the mysterious Ashmole 782 manuscript leads to intrigue, secrets, magic,and danger for her and Matthew both. A romance begins which is taboo between the different creatures, and causes further complications. They travel to France, and then the U.S. trying to stay ahead of those who would destroy them. Along the way we meet both their families, as well as some other interesting and entertaining characters. We also learn more about Matthew’s secrets, and past life which in the end may help save Diana, but also draw them into the past where the 2nd of the trilogy will take us. The romance they share is lovely and touching as it develops.

I love this authors writing style. She’s descriptive yet doesn’t overwhelm with too many details. It’s a fine balance to write and Deb Harkness does a great job. It’s fun how she brings in historical characters, and weaves in science without making me feel like I need to go back to school to read the book. I have a passion for all things Francais, so it’s a definite treat for me that Matthew is French, and parts of the book take place at his family’s chateau somewhere in the vicinity of Lyon. For those of you who love UST you’ll find it in this book. On an erotica scale this book is pretty tame, so if you like fairly graphic detailed sex you’ll be disappointed. Personally I’m hoping for a bit more in book 2.  All in all this book is one of my favorite reads so far  in 2011.

My rating for this book is a solid 4 hearts

OMG! I loved it. You need this book NOW!

5 thoughts on “Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

  1. Great review! Your Matthew looks alot like mine. I really liked this book, felt like it dragged in some areas but got very good towards the end. I should have waited until the 2nd book was out before I read the first. I have no patience!


  2. Amy says:

    Great review T! Discovery of Witches is such a phenomenal book. I couldn’t put it down! Really looking forward to the second book in the series.


  3. Hellokittee says:

    Ok maybe I admit that you liked this book way more than I did. The book cover was awesome and at the beginning, I thought it had a lot of potential. It seemed to really drag through the middle and then gain momentum at the end. Matthew was awesome but I wasn’t ever able to really get into any other character. Your picture of Matthew is perfect. I will probably read the next book but I won’t be standing in line for it. Thanks so much for the excellent book reviews! I’m about to start Tempus tonight!


    • Jag says:

      I felt the same way about Discovery of Witches, I loved the beginning but found at times the pace was a little off. Too fast at places, draggy at parts but I still enjoyed it and found it entertaining. I too plan on reading the rest of the series.


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