Monday, March 24, 2014

Book Report Monday: A Discovery of Witches

Title: A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1)

Author: Deborah Harkness

Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis: 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. (from Goodreads)

Why Did I Pick it Up?: When this first came out, I kept picking it up in bookstores and putting it down again. I don't know why I continuously do this flirtatious back and forth with some books. It's not as though the book will be different next time. More recently during a discussion of the Outlander series, someone suggested that I read A Discovery of Witches and so I added it to my list.

My Review: I couldn't believe I wanted so long to read this. It's exactly my kind of story. Set in present day Oxford, the three types of non-human creatures are all after Diana Bishop and the book she accidentally got her hands on. Vampires can walk in sunlight and blend with humans easily, daemons who are intuitive and generally a bit crazy, and witches who can work magic through spells. The three species are not fond of each other. In fact, there are rules about fraternizing between the groups. Diana, who considers herself to be a historian and not a witch at all, struggles with her place among the creatures who all want to know about the book. All she wants is to be left out of it, but her curiosity is piqued. Soon she too wonders how she got a hold of the book and why the creatures are so interested in an ancient book about alchemy.

After an encounter at the library, Diana befriends Matthew, a handsome scientist and vampire. He does his best to protect Diana while the number of creatures lingering in Oxford swells. And I did my best to root for them. C'mon they met in the library, that's like every other romantic dream I have.

I found Diana easy to relate with, maybe it was all the yoga she does. Her reason for shunning magic is based on her parents' deaths. They were murdered because of their abilities when Diana was seven. As much as I felt frustrated with her disregard for her witch identity, I understood. I just wouldn't be able to resist doing magic if I could.

A Discovery of Witches is in my opinion a tale of self discovery and self acceptance more so than it is about magic and vampires. I've already read the second book in the series and I'm impatiently awaiting the third, which will be published this summer.

This reminded me of Katherine Howe's The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

My Recommendation: I'll repeat why it was recommended to me, fans of the Outlander series would like this, as would anyone looking for a book that contains vampires but not teenagers. 

For Next Time: The Help by Kathryn Stockett


  1. I really enjoyed this one too. But for some reason the sequel to it just didn't keep my interest.

    1. The sequel does have a different feel to it for sure. I've found that the middle book in a trilogy can sometimes be the least thrilling, but maybe the third one will make it all worthwhile for you.