"A Discovery of Witches" Book Review

Updated on August 24, 2018
Victoria C Cook profile image

I'm a lover of everything written. I am happiest when I have a book, a paintbrush or pen in my hand.

What Is a "Discovery of Witches"

The story begins in Oxford where Diana Bishop, an alchemical history professor, is doing research for an upcoming conference she is expected to speak at. While conducting her research she calls for the manuscript Ashmole 782, Diana receives the book and is displeased with the magical power it's emanating. Unbeknownst to her that particular manuscript has been bewitched and lost for centuries. You see Diana is a witch, but since her parent's tragic deaths in Africa when she was a child, she has given up on magic and wants nothing to do with it. So when Diana finds out Ashmole 782 is hexed, she simply ignores the magic in it and returns it to the stacks in the library. However, now the damage is done. By her opening the book she broke the spell momentarily, sending a magical shock wave through the city notifying almost every demon, witch, and vampire in the city of its presence.

The first to arrive on the scene was one Matthew de Clermont, a 1500-year-old vampire who has been searching relentlessly for Ashmole 782. Instead of finding the book, however, he finds Diana immediately becoming infatuated with her. So when Diana's safety becomes compromised Matthews takes her under his wing. In the midst of falling hopelessly in love, Diana and Matthew realize the danger of the other creatures goes beyond a simple book, but also involves Dianas personal as well as her genetic history. Diana is more powerful than anyone could have imagined now that she has to learn to control it and unravel the mysteries of Ashmole 782 all at the same time.

It begins with absence and desire

It begins with blood and fear

It begins with a discovery of witches.

— Deborah Harkness

4 Reasons Why I Love This Book

  1. The History. Every element of this story revolves around some form of history. Being that the main character is a historian and her beloved vampire is 1500 years old this could be expected. However, your expectations and the reality go far beyond what I would have imagined when first picking up this book. When characters describe people, places, and different times you feel like your there with them. You must be on your toes with some of the historical references, meaning its not a bad idea to have your phone handy for some googling when necessary.
  2. Relationship Building. One of my biggest pet peeves when reading a love story is when the main characters fall in love too hard too fast. Now with that being said this entire book takes place over 40 days, so yes Diana and Matthew do fall in love hard and fast, but you are with them every step of the way, so it feel more realistic and less vain. Every relationship in this novel—regardless of friend, lover, aunt or even enemy—has roots. Harkness has planned every detail of every character's relationship with one another to a T. I personally find that this gives me a greater connection to each character resulting in a better connection to the story itself.
  3. Its Funny. If you're going to write a story that focuses primarily on history even if its some of the more interesting points in history, you can also safely assume it's going to have some dry spots. "A Discovery of Witches" does not. One of the main reasons I couldn't put this novel down was because I was simply entertained by the wit and banter that happens throughout the book.
  4. Theme. A major theme in this story has to do with what an individual wants versus what is realistic. "Desire urges me on, while fear bridles me" (Bruno, 434). This was quoted in the novel, a perfect depiction of how everything in this story has two or more sides. Always desire vs reality, in some way, shape or form. This common theme for the reader is what also keeps you engaged for it constantly makes you wonder, what are they going to do next?

Desire urges me on, while fear bridles me.

— Giordano Bruno

The 1 Things I Did Not Like

Diana is Cheesy. Diana's character has a lot of moments where I personally thought to myself "Okay, calm down honey. There is no need to be THIS dramatic . . ." or sometimes the dramatic opposite "Diana, love does not make that okay!" It was personally one of the worst parts of reading this book because you want to relate and like her character, but in some moments it can be difficult. Honestly, beyond this simple poor choice in the dialog was the only part about this novel I did not enjoy. Let's hope it gets better in the next book.

You've got a mess on your hands, and its all because you thought you could ignore your heritage.

— Deborah Harkness

I have read this novel twice now, and I can honestly say I enjoyed it the second time just as much as the first. This book is commonly referred to as a "Twilight" for adults. This is a statement that I both agree and disagree with. I read "Twilight", and though the love story is similar, the actual plot is very different. That being said, I did love "Twilight" when it was popular, but I love this novel more—I couldn't put it down! If you are looking for a riveting story that will engage the bookworm in you for hours and have you laughing outwardly, gasping in shock and giving you butterflies all at the same time then I highly recommend A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness and her All Souls Trilogy.

It's Becoming a TV Series

I am also super excited to say that coming fall of 2018 "A Discovery of Witches" will be a TV series. Check out the trailer below for a sneak peek!

A Discovery of Witches Trailor

5 stars for A Discovery of Witches

Which Magical Creature in "A Discovery of Witches" Would You Be?

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Questions & Answers

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      • aliveandfree profile image

        Sarah Cook 

        3 months ago from Wasaga Beach

        Great article! I would like to read the book!

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