Title: A Discovery of Witches
Author: Deborah Harkness
Genre: Fantasy, paranormal fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy won in a giveaway on My Friend Amy‘s blog
First line: The leather-bound volume was nothing remarkable.
Diana Bishop comes from a long line of witches, but her heritage as a witch is something she wants nothing to do with. She has instead steeped herself in the study of history – more specifically, the history of the ancient science of alchemy. When she requests a manuscript known as Ashmole 782 from the Bodleian Library at Oxford, she has no idea that the manuscript will start a string of events that will make it impossible for her to ignore her inherent magic. She becomes the target of other witches, as well as vampires and daemons, and is immersed in the mystery of what exactly Ashmole 782 is. Thrown together with the mysterious, magnetic vampire, Matthew Clairmont, in spite of the fact that vampires and witches have always been natural enemies, Diana is left to question everything she’s been told about her past – and her future.
I loved this book. No, really – I LOVED this book. In fact, I loved it so much that when I closed it, my first thought was, “There’s something about this book that reminds me of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander.” For those of you who have read my blog for any length of time, you know that this is high praise indeed. There are many, many differences in the two books – vampires, witches, and daemons being the most obvious – but there are some similarities, too. Both books are steeped in history and historical research. Both deal with the idea of time travel. And both have an epic, magnificent romance at their heart.
Deborah Harkness has created a completely real world – a world not unlike our own, but in which four races have co-existed throughout history. She has completely built her world – world-building galore, people! – and yet done it in such a way that the story never drags. And that is an amazing thing, as this book weighs in at a hefty 579 pages. Every time I had a question about the world of the book, I would find the answer very soon – as if the author had anticipated my every query. She has created such an authentic history and mythology, such real characters and settings, that I found myself dreaming about these characters and this world while sleeping. It takes a really good book to do that.
I know I’m gushing, but I don’t know how else to get across how much I adored this book. It has so many of my favorite things: an academic setting; the study of history; elements of the paranormal; spine-tingling creepiness in parts; descriptions of wine that had my mouth watering; a plot that kept me turning page after page long after I should be doing something else; and, of course, a delicious, ages-enduring romance. Bottom line: read this book.
Now I’m off to find something else to read while I wait anxiously for book two in the series, which doesn’t come out until next year. Sob.