Debbie's World of Books
My book reviews, book news & random rants

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

April 25th, 2011 by Debbie's World of Books

Source: Received a hard copy for review and borrowed the audio book from the library

Publication date: February 8, 2011

Publisher: Viking Adult

I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars

Summary from Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

I initially started off listening to this one on audio because at 579 pages long I was not too eager to be carrying this back and forth on my commute to and from work.  After the first few discs I found myself so immersed in the story that it was driving me nuts to have to wait until I had a chance to listen to more in the car.  So for the first time I listened to the audio book and also read the hard copy at the same time.  It was slightly difficult as I had to figure out which disc and track corresponded to where I left off in the hard copy but it was worth it because I did not want to put this book down.

The pace was a bit slow because it’s so filled with details but that just enriches the story.  I loved hearing about the Bodleian Library, alchemical texts and getting a glimpse of what it’s like to be a historian.  It’s always something that has interested me but my practical side made me choose something more likely to be able to pay the bills.  I loved the entire cast of characters and I felt like Diana and Matthew were a nice balance of likeable yet flawed.  Unlike in many other books Matthew does have a dark past that can be hard to forgive and Diana can be irritatingly naive at times and yet that just makes both the characters that much more realistic.

The world building was amazing as we learn some of the common traits that distinguish witches, vampires and demons as well as the customs that rule each group.  The story slowly unfolds and other than knowing that Diana and Matthew are going to fall in love I could not really predict what was going to happen next.  The chemistry between Diana and Matthew was palpable and the only minor thing that bothered me at times was the constant comparison between Matthew and the behavior of wolves.  Yes, I understand the comparison the author was drawing but at times it was just laid on too thick.  Still I loved the story and cannot wait for the next book.

Posted in 4 Star Books, Books, General Fiction, Paranormal, Romance

6 Responses

  1. Bibliotropic

    I got this one for review from the publisher, and absolutely adored it. I’m really looking forward to the next book in the trilogy, so I can spend more time with the chatacters. I can’t wait to see how the story’s going to keep playing out.

  2. Laura @ ImBookingIt

    Yay, I’m glad you enjoyed this one too! I think it was the depth of the world building that sold me, but it was an altogether well written book.

  3. Wrighty

    So glad you liked this, I’ve really been looking forward to it! I’m also reading and listening to a book now. I’ve had some driving to do and took the same approach you did. It’s tricky but worth it! I just need to stop day dreaming while listening so I don’t have to rewind so much! :)

  4. Ladybug

    This sounds like a must read to me,excellent review. I “ran” over to to see if they had the audio version but they didn’t :( buhu. Oh well, I just have to be patient I guess.

  5. Pam (@iwriteinbooks)

    Oh, I’m about to start this, this weekend! I’m glad you liked it. I pretty much just skimmed through your review because I’m so close to reading it, myself. I’ll come back when I’m finished!

  6. Aleetha

    I agree with you fro its slow pace. But one character made me keep reading it till few last chapters.yep, he is Matthew. I also love the world that is build by Deborah and all its speculations.

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