Monday, May 7, 2012

Book Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Title: A Discovery of Witches

Author: Deborah Harkness

Publisher: Viking

Publication Date: February 2011

Genre: Adult Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book One

Synopsis can be found here.


To read A Discovery of Witches is to block out real life and all other ffiction and immerse yourself in a world filled with science, magic and romance. Yes, science and magic.

Diana, an American in Oxford, calls upon a long lost book one day in the library. Knowing it's magical, but not understanding what it exactly is, she returns it to the stacks. Suddenly, an array of different creatures become interested in her, including a dark scholarly vampire named Matthew. This mysterious book has been lost for centuries and the fact that Diana called it out and opened it, makes all other magical creatures anxious, for varying reasons.

Witches, daemons and vampires all want a look at this book and will do anything to get it.

I had been meaning to read this book since it came out. I'm so glad I waited too because book two is released in July so I only have three months to wait instead of a year! Because I cannot wait for book two.

Well written, good pacing and pure magic is held within A Discovery of Witches. The revelations and twists are expertly planned, building on this long and complicated story of family history and political motives. Diana is a strong woman, and while she has been hiding from her magic, she realizes she cannot hide from herself any longer. She is a witch, a powerful one at that, and needs to learn how to control her magic. I liked Diana's bravery and struggles.

And there's Matthew. Now don't get me wrong. I love a good brooding romantic vampire any day of the week. But Matthew is so much more. He's scholarly, very old, and has much more class and depth to him than so many others I've read about. I love his dark warm clothes, his taste for wine, his love of history and science. Harkness does a wonderful job of making Matthew into a real character through his belongings. Not only the wines, but his castle where his mother lives. The artifacts, books, architecture add to the setting, but mostly they create a warmness to Matthew that other vampires in literature are lacking. He's still possessive, fierce and a killer, but hey, we can't all be perfect.

All of the supporting characters ranged from loved to hated (and by hated, I mean scared to death by them.) Ysabeau and Marthe were my favorites, well thought out and wonderful contrasts to Matthew and Diana. Hamish and Marcus were also fantastic characters and I hope to see them more in the future. The bad guys were bad, evil and simply scary. I won't go into events in the book, but Harkness is not afraid to hurt her characters.

So what are you waiting for?
Don't you want some magic in your life?

An additional comment: The hardcover edition is gorgeous. The artwork, jacket and inside are all beautifully done. I read my copy on Kindle, but I'm not ashamed to say I did wind up buying the hardcover for my library. Matthew and Diana would approve.

Rating 10 One of The Best


  1. I really have to read this. Thanks for the great review and recommendation. It sounds awesome! - FABR Steph

    1. Thanks for reading Steph! I loved this book. I hope you will too!

  2. I love Marthe! And Matthew of course. Great review!

  3. I loved this one! Can't wait for the next one!

    1. Me too. Have you pre-ordered yours yet?

  4. Loved this one. Can't wait for July!

  5. Join our crusade