Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Book Details
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Hardcover, 592 Pages
2011, Viking Adult
ISBN: 0670022411

When historian Diana Bishop opens a bewitched alchemical manuscript in Oxford’s Bodleian Library it represents an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordinary life. Though descended from a long line of witches, she is determined to remain untouched by her family’s legacy. She banishes the manuscript to the stacks, but Diana finds it impossible to hold the world of magic at bay any longer.

For witches are not the only otherworldly creatures living alongside humans. There are also creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires who become interested in the witch’s discovery. They believe that the manuscript contains important clues about the past and the future, and want to know how Diana Bishop has been able to get her hands on the elusive volume.

Chief among the creatures who gather around Diana is vampire Matthew Clairmont, a geneticist with a passion for Darwin. Together, Diana and Matthew embark on a journey to understand the manuscript’s secrets. But the relationship that develops between the ages-old vampire and the spellbound witch threatens to unravel the fragile peace that has long existed between creatures and humans—and will certainly transform Diana’s world as well.

A Discovery of Witches is a beautifully written novel delving deep into the world of history and the supernatural. This book straddles the line between lighthearted adventure and rigid academia, finding a perfect balance of serious and fun.

Diana is a witch who turned her back on her powers in childhood. A twinge of magic felt when touching a book followed by one tiny spell witnessed by a vampire sets off a chain reaction of events that puts both of them in grave danger. As they attempt to escape other creatures of their kind, Diana and Matthew are drawn closer together.

A Discovery of Witches has a wonderful romance story line, but the main focus was always the supernatural. After touching the book, Diana's magic comes back stronger than she has ever known. Unable to control her abilities, she's dangerous. But dangerous may be just when Diana and Matthew need to survive. The cast of characters, witches, vampires and daemons almost exclusively, is richly detailed and completely engaging. Characters leapt off the page making the reading of the book seem more like I had actually lived through the events.

I loved every moment of this book, but more than that I loved Diana. Not so much that I wanted her as my friend as I wanted to be her. Despite the danger and dire circumstances, Diana remained intelligent, strong, determined and wholly her own woman. At her lowest point, she always had power.

A Discovery of Witches is the first in a planned trilogy. The book ends with a clear and aggravating cliffhanger than I'm desperate to have resolved. A Discovery of Witches is an absolutely stunning fiction debut that'll leave you in awe.


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