Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES by Deborah Harkness

Publisher: Penguin Viking
Date published: February 8, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-670-02241-0
Fantasy, Vampire, Ghost, Paranormal
Reviewed by Gina
Obtained by Publisher

Intent on her career, preparing for what could be the most important presentation of her professional life, Diana Bishop spends her days in the hallowed halls of Oxford’s library. Her life is fairly routine, or at least stable until one day she requests a particular manuscript—Ashmole 782. Rather than providing her with alchemical answers, the tome turns her life upside down. Suddenly creatures begin to appear in the library—daemons, witches and vampires—especially one particular vampire named Matthew Clairmont.

At first Matthew is drawn to Diana for the same reason a host of other creatures are seeking her out. Then he realizes just who she is within his life and it’s not just that she is the last of the Bishop witches. His protective instincts kick into overdrive and Matthew devotes himself to protecting Diana. After Diana’s room is broken into, her life threatened and secrets about her parents’ death unfold, Matthew takes Diana away to his mother’s home in France. There Diana allows herself not only to accept her feelings for Matthew, but she begins to come to terms with her place as a witch.

A war is coming, one that will encompass not only the creatures who have kept their lives hidden from the humans. It is one that will have far reaching ramifications depending on which side wins. After suppressing her magic for almost her entire life, Diana must face just who and what she is before it is too late.

Deborah Harkness’ A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES is a phenomenal read. It is not a book to just pick up for a mindless read. It is dense in lore, history, character dynamics, adventure and sheer entertainment. I personally enjoy longer reads where you can become enmeshed in the characters’ lives—almost as if you are part of their action. A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES is that kind of read. At almost 600 pages, not a word is wasted. Each line weaves into the fabric of the story. Even though I did not personally relate or feel much either way about Diana or Matthew they are marvelous characters. There was a point where the constant reminders that his body was cold—after all, he is a vampire—became a tad tedious, but it did not detract from the story. Ms. Harkness creates an amazing and very real world. I enjoyed the scenes with “fun” magic like when Diana lights the Halloween pumpkins. I fell in love with Marcus and wouldn’t mind seeing more of Baldwin, perhaps in his own story where he meets his match along the way.

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES is much more than a marvelous fantasy that seems to come to life. Ms. Harkness draws on her own career as a professor of history and brings by-gone eras to the pages in vivid detail. I saw that this is the first of a trilogy and was disappointed that I couldn’t find further information on the next book of the series. I want to know what happens to Matthew and Diana now, not months from now.

This is one of those books that takes some time to read which makes it a wonderful vacation read.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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