A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES
Book 1 in the All Souls Trilogy
By Deborah E. Harkness
Published by: Viking Adult
First Printing: February 8, 2011
Concept: “It all begins with a lost manuscript, a reluctant witch, and 1,500-year-old vampire. Dr. Diana Bishop has a really good reason for refusing to do magic: she is a direct descendant of the first woman executed in the Salem Witch Trials, and her parents cautioned her be discreet about her talents before they were murdered, presumably for having "too much power." So it is purely by accident that Diana unlocks an enchanted long-lost manuscript (a book that all manner of supernatural creatures believe to hold the story of all origins and the secret of immortality) at the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and finds herself in a race to prevent an interspecies war. A sparkling debut written by a historian and self-proclaimed oenophile, A Discovery of Witches is heady mix of history and magic, mythology, and love (cue the aforementioned vampire!), making for a luxurious, intoxicating, one-sitting read. --Daphne Durham
Review: I first became aware of this book as an Amazon “Best Book of the Month” for February, 2011. I wasn’t quite sure about it, so I put in a request at my library and lo and behold, I got it. I think I was the first person to crack open the book and I read about 50 pages of it and put it down because I knew I was going to have to own this one. I ended up purchasing the book and didn’t pick it back up again until my Goodreads group scheduled a read-a-long. It was a giant of a book to read to start out with (590+ pages) and reading it as a read-a-long took us a full month to get through, but it was worth it. I’m struggling with exactly what to tell you about this book because, as I’ve seen written, it should be considered an “experience” book. A few short sentences would sound something like this: The writing is so rich and wonderful. The story is a cross between Twilight and Practical Magic. It’s a captivating story with many twists and turns. You really must have your smart cap on because Harkness is a professor after all. Yup. Those are a few short sentences for this book, but you can’t review this book in short sentences! You just can’t!
‘A Discovery of Witches’ is no light read. There’s a little bit of every paranormal to please the reader, from witches to vampire and daemons. Because I could never put it this eloquently, I read one review that said that this book is a “star-crossed inter-species romance and twining, interlocking mysteries that draw on history, science and speculation.” That is so very well said. This is the first in the All Souls Trilogy series. ‘A Discovery of Witches’ is absolutely a paranormal saga.
Some readers have put this book down because they don’t allow the mystery to unfold and to find out the answers as the characters find them out. Remember if you do decide to pick this up, this is not a Black Dagger Brotherhood romance novel. It’s something else entirely. But something that you just feel better about yourself for having read.
What I liked: There are a few scenes in this book that I took a great liking to. I loved the yoga class scene (I’m not going to explain it because it needs to be experienced). I loved the “hunting lodge” scene and the easy, unconditional relationship between two of the characters. I loved all the wine descriptions (and I’m not even a wine drinker) and I loved the richness of the words in this book. The words are just perfect.
What I disliked: The book is very smart. There were times when I felt that it was way out of my league. I personally would like a “blonder” version. ::thigh slap:: I crack myself up!
My rating: 4.5 feathers
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