I Loved Every Page of A Discovery of Witches

BlogHer Review

A chivalrous vampire with old-fashioned values and unwavering loyalty towards the one he loves. Sound familiar? You may think so, but in A Discovery of Witches, author Deborah Harkness takes us into uncharted territory, weaving past and present into a fascinating tale of good and evil, magic and mystery, love and hate.

Diana Bishop is a historian doing research at England’s Oxford University. However, Diana has a secret -- she is descended from a family of powerful witches, one of whom was executed in the infamous Salem Witch Trials. But Diana has been running from her identity as a witch since her parents were murdered when she was a child. All of that changes one day while doing research, she stumbles upon an ancient alchemical manuscript. The discovery that it is bewitched, and that she is able to open it sucks Diana into a conflict that started hundreds of years ago, involving other “creatures.” Besides witches, there are daemons and vampires, who believe the manuscript contains information about their creation, history and their future. Suddenly, Diana finds herself the target of the creatures’ most powerful beings, demanding to know why she is able to open the manuscript. Among those creatures is Matthew Claiborne, a vampire and geneticist, who helps open Diana’s eyes to the world of magic and witchcraft she has been trying to avoid. Together they embark on a journey to figure out the manuscript’s meaning and Diana’s mysterious connection to it. Their resulting relationship puts them and their families in danger, as an inter-creature relationship is forbidden.

This book had me fascinated from the beginning. I will admit that I am a fan of the Twilight series, and comparisons are inevitable. But A Discovery of Witches is much smarter and grown-up than the Twilight books. Harkness’s knowledge of history and science make this story so intelligent, as Matthew Claiborne has lived for several centuries and met some famous and infamous characters along the way. Far-fetched? Of course. It is convenient that Matthew Claiborne knew perhaps most of the prominent historical figures from George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein. But that, in my opinion, is part of the fun. Harkness is able to weave those relationships into the complicated past that Claiborne has, what makes him who is now and able to help Diana in their quest. Diana, as the heroine, is a brilliant, strong woman, someone to be respected and admired. Although her stubbornness and strong will was exasperating at times, I loved every page of this book, and was left wanting more. I am a little disappointed that I have to wait at least a year to find out what happens next!

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