A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES by Deborah Harkness

A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together. 

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.


Title : A Discovery of Witches
Author : Deborah Harkness
Series : All Souls (book one)
Format : physical
Page Count : 579
Genre : paranormal romance / historical
Publisher : Viking Penguin
Release Date : February 8, 2011

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

We’re back and it’s time to tackle yet another unfinished series! Yes, once again, as is generally the case, books one and two in the All Souls trilogy (series, whatever) are familiar to me (from many moons ago) but book three (and in this case the companion/book four) are not. Having said that, because I had long ago decided I had given up on this series, I did start watching the show. And, even after deciding on this series completion journey, I continued to watch the show. So everything is jumbled now and there’s likely nothing at all that will be new or a spoiler; except book four. 

Having said all that, this book exists with a five star rating on GR from back when I logged it after creating my account. And it’s definitely not keeping that rating. As you can see. But what’s interesting is while I was constantly forever frustrated by Matthew in the adaptation, and I was sure the book would make me feel better about him.. he might actually be worse in the source material. Hard to believe. They did keep the characters pretty true to form but I’m struggling to remember if they had gentled some of Matthew’s extra aggressive/overprotective tendencies because while book-Diana pushes back a lot, I feel like show-Diana had to push back less. So I suppose there’s a positive to be seen in some upgrades.

Overall though the first season was so true to this instalment. The only changes were actually fleshing out backstories/parallel plots for a few characters we meet along the way; again, an upgrade, in my mind. 

I can definitely see why I did love this in the moment. It was an adult — and far more complex — paranormal offering in the era of Twilight and felt like a logical stepping stone in the vampire resurgence. In hindsight, all these years later, it’s.. fine. Maybe even good.

I do question my sanity in picking up a chonky series when in the midst of a slump but I must’ve been on to something because even though this took a few days to get through I did keep coming back to it. Even as a reread. Even with the show so fresh in my mind. I’ll take that as a win! I’m somewhat dreading book two because this is where it all went wrong for me, and why I chose to throw in the towel. Again, with having seen season two, I think I know why it went wrong but I guess we’ll see if season two was equally faithful to the book. And how it lands on this second go-round.

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