Book Review: A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy Book #1) by Deborah Harkness

Posted July 18, 2014 by @Angelized_1st in 2014 HF Challenge, Books, Entertainment, Historical Fiction Reading Challenges, Reading Challenges / 0 Comments

Book Review: A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy Book #1) by Deborah HarknessA Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Series: All Souls Trilogy,
Published by Penguin Books on 2011
Genres: Epic, Fantasy, Fiction, General, Occult & Supernatural, Paranormal
Pages: 579
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
ISBN: 9780143119685
Buy on: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks

"A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together."

Book one of the New York Times–bestselling All Souls trilogy—"a wonderfully imaginative grown-up fantasy with all the magic of Harry Potter and Twilight” (People)

Deborah Harkness’s sparkling debut, A Discovery of Witches, has brought her into the spotlight and galvanized fans around the world. In this tale of passion and obsession, Diana Bishop, a young scholar and a descendant of witches, discovers a long-lost and enchanted alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, deep in Oxford's Bodleian Library. Its reappearance summons a fantastical underworld, which she navigates with her leading man, vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont. Harkness has created a universe to rival those of Anne Rice, Diana Gabaldon, and Elizabeth Kostova, and she adds a scholar's depth to this riveting tale of magic and suspense.

I tend to gravitate towards E-books as they’re easier to carry around, but one day while hanging out at Barnes & Noble I came across Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches. What caught my attention was the book cover, but the synopsis on the back cover is what made me decide to buy it. Since I’m participating in Historical Tapestry’s 2014 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge again this year, I thought this novel would be a nice addition for the TBR pile. Turns out I was both right and wrong. (This particular novel isn’t set in the past, but the second novel is.) While the main character, Diana Bishop, is a historian, this novel takes place in present day. Part mystery. Part supernatural romance. A Discovery of Witches didn’t exactly draw me in from the very first page, but once it did I was hooked.

A Discovery of Witches is the first novel in Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy, which tells the story of historian Diana Bishop, a witch from a powerful line of witches who falls in love with vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont. These two set out to uncover the mystery behind an ancient manuscript that is said to hold the secret origins of witches, vampires, and daemons, and fall in love despite the age-old taboos of “interspecies” romance. Smart and sophisticated, this novel is a great read for Twilight fans who’ve grown up.

Harkness created a world in which powerful creatures live alongside humans, yet apart. Setting these star-crossed lovers in the midst of warring species as they vie for dominance was a nice touch. Instead of just another supernatural romance, readers get pulled into a suspense yarn that will keep them guessing until the series’ conclusion. What I enjoyed most about this novel was Diana and Matthew’s investigation of the elusive manuscript while Diana learned more about her powers and her past. Diana is a strong heroine, and held her own against the debonair vampire out to capture her heart. I also liked how realistically Diana and Matthew’s relationship progressed. Nothing felt rushed or forced. If you’re looking for a romance with a bit of mystery, you might want to add this novel to your summer reading list.

Rating Report
Overall: 4.6

About Deborah Harkness

Deborah Harkness grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and has lived in western Massachusetts, the Chicago area, Northern California, upstate New York, and Southern California. She’s also lived in the United Kingdom in the cities of Oxford and London.

For the past twenty-eight years she’s been a student and scholar of history, and received degrees from Mount Holyoke College, Northwestern University, and the University of California at Davis. During that time she researched the history of magic and science in Europe, especially during the period from 1500 to 1700. Currently, she teaches European history and the history of science at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Her career in fiction began in September 2008 when she began to wonder “if there really are witches and vampires, what do they do for a living?” A Discovery of Witches is the unexpected answer to that question. The book debuted at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, and was also a bestseller in the UK, France, and Germany. In total, more than thirty-eight foreign editions and translations of volumes from the trilogy have been published. The story of Diana and Matthew continued in two subsequent sequels. Harkness has also written several non-fiction books, and in her spare time likes to blog about wine.


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