Book Review : A Discovery Of Witches By Deborah Harkness

This book caused a tiny bit of excitement when I laid my hands on it, almost as if its suggested magical properties affected my decision to read it. The story is a mix of fantasy, history and advanced alchemy. The plots, (yes, there are about three, or maybe It’s one big plot) are so compelling however, it binds you immediately to the characters of the story. Book one, of the All Souls Trilogy,( part 2 is due this July) It is an odd compilation of supernatural strength and forbidden romance. You sort of hope the end leaves you wanting more, because the middle seems so good. It is addictive and I will say this…  while the book has been referred to as sort of a Twilight meets Harry Potter, It is not.There are elements of both, certainly. But it does not even come close to HP. Personally though, I was most absorbed with the dabbling in genetics by a very old but handsome vampire. There is so much information about DNA that my head was spinning from trying to understand it all, however, it has a great deal to do with the story, so I didn’t mind it too much.

The important plot ( remember I said there might be three) revolves largely around Ashmole 782, an ancient manuscript bound by powers that cannot be broken, unless it is re-called by a powerful witch.  The witch in question is Diana, spellbound and named after the Roman goddess of hunting, she is a historian, and  visiting professor at Oxford( of course the setting at the Bodleian library was partly my attraction to the book) who  loathes her power, is reluctant to use it, although she does use it, when she is unaware – I was a little confused here. It seems that she knows how to use it when she needs it but she is suppressing it.  Certain aspects of her unharnessed powers are quite dangerous; she releases sparks from her fingers when she is angry, has the ability to create witch water with her tears and a tornado effect – when she wants to escape. Somehow her ability to recall Ashmole 782, causes a huge stir among the supernatural academic community and they begin hovering around the Bodleian – who would have thought so many wizards, daemons and vampires could sit around for that long in a library without regular humans noticing that something is amiss. Anyway, with all the attention Diana starts to receive, Matthew Claremont steps in, not quite the gallant knight in shining armor, more a subtle dusting of snowflakes and peace – you’ll see what I mean.

Plot two is somewhat interesting; Diana’s relationship with Matthew Claremont – the 1000+ vampire geneticist who loves yoga, labs and lovely cars, –  intensifies. Their passion grows and It stirs Mathew’s protective instincts almost as quickly as it ruffles the feathers of witches, wizards and vampires alike.  A witch and vampire cannot be in a relationship – that is the bottom line. Then, just as suddenly, their passion sort of dwindles into comfort,  disappointingly, as much as the author tried to convince me that their passion was intense and the love they shared surpassed even supernatural power, I didn’t quite feel it. You really need to feel it in the story, It’s like Darcy and Elizabeth – even when they despised each other, there was passion. They didn’t need to do anything about it, it was always present.

Plot three thickens with tracing Diana’s DNA, investigating her parents death, dealing with  the council’s (of wizards/witches and a whole host of vampires) extreme interest in Diana’s power, the maybe extinction of supernatural beings and a witch/vampire war. I suppose I should make it a plot four and five, but really, I didn’t see the point.

For a début novel of 800 pages, it had plenty of content to keep me interested. It was a little sappy and weighed heavy with detail which wasn’t quite necessary. I do think it is a good read and I am hoping book two will grow in leaps and bounds, I will let you know.



  1. I love the book title and the book cover. Your review is quite thorough, but gone are the days I can commit to reading a book of 800 pages. So, I will rely on your descriptions/reviews to suffice me. Thanks!


    1. Ha! ha! Monica, I often wonder how It is I still manage to read these long and lengthy books, I somehow do. Sometimes I take the risk by staying up late into the night and suffering for it the next morning 🙂 or I read in the pick up line at school or when I am drying my hair. I used to finish one book a week but as my kids get older and I have more driving to do, it is one book a month. I miss it. In fact for Mother’s day, I asked for nothing but some free time to sit and read. I hope I get it.


  2. This is a book that I keep picking up and putting down, I have heard so many good reviews abut it but fantasy isn’t really my thing, do you need a love of fantasy to appreciate it or is it one for everyone?


    1. Hi Hannah, Thank you for stopping by. You don’t need a love of fantasy to appreciate the book but be aware of the whole vampire/witch story line. I believe it has something for everyone. Try it and see, I would love to know what you think.


      1. Thanks, I’ll have to give it a go!


  3. skbsbooknook says:

    I’m so glad that you liked the book. I began reading it but gave up about a third of the way through because it reminded me too much of Bella and Edward :{ But, since you liked it, I’ll give it another go 🙂


    1. I can see why… I tried to look past Twilight because I didn’t want to see the parallels. I focused on the alchemy and found myself enjoying the book in spite of some of its sappier bits. I hope it works for you. Let me know okay 🙂


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