A Discovery of Witches: A Book About Secrets

BlogHer Review

I admit I was not sure what to expect from Deborah Harkness' book, A Discovery of Witches, but jumped at the chance to read it. Witches, vampires, daemons, oh my! It sounded right up my alley.

Once I started reading, I had a difficult time putting the book down. It has a little bit of everything in it; mystery, supernatural romance, history, and even humor. There are tons and tons of details in this book. It is painfully obvious that Ms. Harkness did her research for the background to her story. The alchemy angle certainly is new as far as I know and the author did an okay job explaining a very complicated subject that I know next to nothing about.

To me this was a story about secrets. Secrets the main characters, Diana and Matthew, keep from each other. Secrets the three types of “creatures” (witch, vampire, and daemon) keep from the humans as well as each other. Alchemy, which plays a key role in the book, is about discovering the secret of the philosopher’s stone. Alchemists wrote their manuscripts in allegories to keep their processes secret from others. There are family secrets to be discovered by both Diana and Matthew. Secrets some do not want shared and secrets that others are desperate to know.

Most of the secrets once revealed lead to other problems and more secrets. The alchemical manuscript, the Ashmole 782, is one of those. It has been missing for centuries and everyone wants to find it. When Diana accidentally discovers the manuscript, opens it and begins studying its pages she unknowingly opens a huge can of worms. This is the beginning of Diana and Matthew’s relationship and the starting point of the story.

There are times the plot seems to drag on due to the immense amount of detail and description given around Diana and Matthew. All these details however just add to the depth and background of the story in my opinion. Yes, a witch and a vampire falling in love against their species covenants is not a new plot line but as Diana is in her 30s and Matthew is 1500 years old it is refreshing in an adult way.

Not all the secrets are revealed in this book. Some of the secrets are just hinted at, not even fully revealed, much less resolved. It is the first in a trilogy after all. I am quite sure there are more secrets just waiting to be revealed in the next two books. I am looking forward to the next two books and seeing how all the secrets come to light and play out.

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