"A Discovery of Witches" by Deborah Harkness Review

Updated on April 15, 2019
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Reading books has always been a passion and Diana reads about 5 to 20 books a month

The Review, and All Its Glory

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness is the first book in the All Souls Trilogy. It introduces a witch and her vampire lover and the fight they must endure to be together against all odds. As the first book of the series, it really draws you in and makes you really think about how things are perceived and creates the illusion that vampires, witches and daemons (daemons are demons in Harkness’s fantastical world) could be hiding amongst us without us ever knowing. The book is placed in modern times, but brings in tons of history as the main character; a witch named Diana, is a historian and often is immersed in one history topic or another. It is quite interesting to read about her approach to life and see how it changes when she meets a vampire who whisks her away, so to speak. As a reader, you are able to delve into a world where anything is possible and see how just similar things would be if this was truly our world.

A Discovery of Witches is a book about a witch names Diana has encountered a very old and lost manuscript that many others want. Upon being granted access to this book and denying the magic in her that calls her to investigate it with her powers, she returns it, only to find herself being threatened, stalked and in danger due to it only being obtained by her and returned to the library and back to its magical disappearance. The finding of this book however, helps he discover who she is and a new lover, who is a vampire. The odd couple experience a threat and a mystery that they wish to uncover. As well as, an old rule that they now must try to change, no matter the cost.


I had really enjoyed reading the first book, and found its quick pace refreshing but also pleasing to read. Though there were many things left for me to wonder about. All the secrets the vampire had and his worries that will be revealed in the second book, I hope anyways, makes me want to just read all the books back to back. Though the book was 576 pages long, I was able to finish reading it in two days. I often didn’t want to tear myself out of the book to do my daily tasks. It’s definitely a page turned with how Harkness was able to describe everything in the book and flush out some character while leaving mystery on what is to come in the next book.

Harkness was able to draw in each of the five senses into her writing. I was able to smell, taste, and feel what was being describe it was easy to get lost and forget easily all that was around me. However, I did find that somethings where a bit odd and would never have paired up, like the smell of cinnamon and cloves. I will have to try to make the combination in my kitchen to see what that might smell like together as I am not one for the smell of cinnamon. I did find the characters to be extremely well put together and often found myself happy when they were happy, as well as sad when they were. I did quite enjoy that A Discovery of Witches has some things that were extremely accurate while still being fantastical. For example, in Wicca or Paganism rituals are done to do witch craft. Spells and such are handed down to members of the family for generations and the holidays match up to what is practiced today. However, the way magic is portrayed isn’t what really happens in our world, or so I know of, but if it was, I can see how Harkness describes it being how it is.

A Discovery of Witches is just an amazing piece of work that will draw you in and keep you wanting more. Though some words can come across odd, as they aren’t used in normal, everyday conversations, it really says a lot about Harkness’s writing style. She is intelligent and it shows in her work with how she describes things and often uses things from our past to put things in our present world in to perspective to pertain to her characters.

I loved how the book has made me think and do some research myself, on different topics, if only to see what was true and what was made up. For example, alchemy is what puts our character in a situation that seems harsh and completely uncalled for by some extremely bad characters. Not knowing much about alchemy, I had to look up just what the photos Diana might be looking at. The author described them so well, I would picture them in my mind and when I looked them up; I was amazed how much close to the actual images Harkness had described. Though, I am on a computer versus in a library with old manuscripts.

Overall, I would rate this book 3 star out of 4 stars. That may seem harsh seeing as it is one of the best books I have read, and I read a ton, but I found that with all the secrets the characters keep from each other and the reader as a whole quite infuriating. I wanted more and find myself here not able to resist the urge of starting the next book. I do hope some things are clarified and revealed; otherwise I will end up being a very upset reader. Harkness’s writing does seem promising to reveal more as the story develops though. A Discovery of Witches is an extremely good book, even with its infuriating secrets, that I would recommend to anyone who loves the ideas of vampires, witches and demons existing in a world alongside us.

I often have most my books for my reviews in e-book format and I would definitely suggest everyone who does major reading get some kind of e-reader or an app to have the ability to get e-books. I personally use the Kindle Fire by Amazon. However, for this particular book, I was lucky enough that my husband had bought the physical copy. I was quite surprised with how big the book was, over 500 pages, and found that reading for long period of times would create some discomfort in my hands while I read.

I would definitely suggest buying the Kindle or whatever e-book application you use format for this book. It would make it easier to carry it around and it would also make it a little less hard on your hand when you are holding it. That is my opinion and as long as you give it a read, who am I to tell you how to get it done.

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    © 2018 Chrissy


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