A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness {Jenna’s Review}

Posted 11 December, 2013 by Jenna / 18 Comments

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness {Jenna’s Review}A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Series: All Souls Trilogy #1
Genres: Occult & Supernatural, Romance, Thrillers
Pages: 592
Format: Paperback

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..

Magical tapestry of secrets and romance.

My Thoughts

This is the third time I’ve read A Discovery of Witches and I’ve never written – or even attempted to write – a formal review. Even when I talk about the book, I find it hard to describe why I am so captivated by the story.

Have you ever read a book that you were sad to finish? One that you couldn’t get out of your head after reading the last words? That’s this book, for sure.

Deborah Harkness invites her readers to imagine a world of four types of life: humans, vampires, daemons, and witches. She introduces us to an enchanted book that has been hidden by a powerful spell – one that witch protagonist Diana Bishop seems to break not only effortlessly, but unknowingly. Soon she’s beset by deamons, witches, and her very own vampire – all intent on learning the secrets of the book she called from special collections and now cannot get back.

A Discovery of Witches takes place between Oxford, France, and upstate New York. It has mystery, science, history, romance, and action – and it’s just the first book in the series! Deborah Harkness writes with an intensity that you don’t come across very often. It leads to having a story tapestry that is rich, colorful, and varied. She sets up a view of our everyday world that includes magic and ancient creatures – and does so convincingly. Her characters and relationships are palpable and three-dimensional. In a way, it feels as though she’s writing about real people.

This last/most recent reading was part of a real-time read-along that the author herself organized. It was an interesting experience; at times I had to force myself to only read the chapter or chapters assigned for that day. I always get so wrapped up in the story and want to stay with the characters longer. But Deborah Harkness organized an almost daily schedule to keep pace with the action of the story, and it was cool to have the story unfold day by day. And, every day on her Facebook page, she would add photos, or inspirations, or songs that have meaning to the chapter or chapters for that day.

This story is a complex and memorable one that quickly worked its way into my heart. I expect it’s going to stay there for quite some time to come.

“It begins with absence and desire.

It begins with blood and fear.

It begins with a discovery of witches.”


Girl with Book Lungs


Filed under: ESR: 10, Fantasy, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Review: Jenna, Romance, Romantic Suspense,


18 Responses to “A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness {Jenna’s Review}”

  1. I need to read this book. I keep hearing such amazing things about it. I always love hearing that this is a book that people enjoy even on the reread.

      • Oh no! I do! I love series. But sometimes (a lot of times) I read a book I adore that is the first book of a series and then… the next book comes out SO LONG AFTER IT that… I just never pick it up again. The amazing feels I had for the first one have died and while my brain remembers them, I’m usually feeling that way about something new instead.

        I’m fickle.

        And there are too many books.

        • Ooooh, I see. Yeah, that can be frustrating! You forget the little details of plot and story that carry over – or, at least, I do!

          And I agree: SO many book and so little time.

  2. I have a couple books that are like this for me Jenna! Ones that make it extremely difficult to put my love for them in words, and ones that I just treasure. The fact that this that type of book for you has me wanting to pick it up immediately in the hopes that it will be the same for me!

  3. This sounds like a great story that I am missing out on. I own the book so I guess now I just need to get around to reading it.

    Thanks for the great review, I love when you find that book that is so special to you that each re-read just brings something new to the table.

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