A Discovery of Witches: Slow to Start, Fast to Finish

BlogHer Review

The only bad thing about Deborah Harkness' A Discovery of Witches is that the second installment in this trilogy is not available for me to buy. (Actually, it’s pretty bad that the second installment wasn’t available for me to buy the moment I finished the last sentence of the book. I was ready for it right at that very second!)

To put it mildly, I loved this book. Harkness’s story of magic, romance, scholarship, and history has me quite literally spellbound (and not too proud to make a pun in a review of a book with the word ‘witches’ in the title).

Initially slow to start -- it took me about 100 pages to really get into Harkness’s particular mythology and history of witches, vampires, daemons, and all things magical -- A Discovery of Witches soon captured my attention with such verve that I finished the last 250 pages in one sitting.

At the heart of this story is Diana, a reluctant witch and devoted historian researching medieval alchemical texts, and Matthew, a dashing vampire and centuries-old scholar with his own arsenal of secrets. In a world where relationships between vampires and witches are cold at best, and inimical at worst, Diana and Matthew develop a forbidden friendship after Diana unearths a long-lost magical manuscript on alchemy: one whose contents have nearly the entire world of non-human “creatures” seeking after Diana (and sometimes with malicious intentions). Soon, the witch and vampire realize that they must hide, both to protect themselves and the secrets in the manuscript.

A Discovery of Witches rarely left my side once Diana and Matthew’s “on the run” adventures began. The story weaves its way through a chateau in France to an endearingly haunted house in upstate New York to mysterious and otherworldly times both past and present. It also (spoiler alert) tracks the budding (and, let’s be honest, hot) romantic relationship between Matthew and Diana. And unlike another popular vampire “saga,” this particular romance -- and the entire story in general -- has a complexity, depth, and maturity that makes Team Edward and Team Jacob look like child’s play. (And this is coming from a self-professed Twilight fan!)

What’s more, it’s this very complexity and depth that has me counting down the days (sometime in 2012, according to Harkness’s personal website) until Book Two hits the shelves!

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