Book Review | A Discovery of Witches

a discovery of witches

I can’t shake my sudden surge of interest in witches (blame it on too many viewing of Practical Magic and the love potions I imagine are being concocted for V Day), so when I saw A Discovery of Witches on Barnes & Noble’s Love Stories list I decided to give it another go.

After purchasing the ebook, I thought about the time I purchased it in paperback form…over a year ago.  I was anticipating a long and quiet car ride to Virginia to see Ethan graduate from AIT, and I packed two new books for the trip.  One was Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger and the other A Discovery of Witches.  It took all of my concentration to finish Salinger’s 208 pages within the confines of that trip, and with the onset of my final semester before graduating, I returned this book (knowing I’d have little time for pleasure reading).  But I felt like it was time, so I returned to it.

Initially, it seems like an obvious choice.  A bookworm witch finds a lost manuscript in the depths of a London library.  The events– and creatures– that follow change her life forever.  Deborah Harkness paints Diana Bishop as a painstakingly stubborn witch, who would rather live life as a human than reap the benefits of her magic.  She counts how many times she calls upon her magic each year, and in the last moment–when her life still felt seemingly normal– the tally jumped from four to five.  In the wake of feeling a book that stirs her long suppressed craft and meeting an accomplished but mysterious colleague, Diana is ripped from her comfortable oblivion and becomes the center of a design she doesn’t in the slightest understand.  With an outcropping of creatures following the manuscript’s appearance, Diana must choose the allegiance of her fellow witches or the attraction she feels with her colleague Matthew.

This book begins in Oxford, but doesn’t hesitate to jump around.  Harkness manages to weave a plot-line that takes readers into the depths of France and back country of New York, as well as all major events of European history.  With the help of both Diana and Matthew’s extra-abilities, nothing is out of the question…including the existence of modern day knights and editions of manuscripts never documented.

The relationship between Diana and Matthew was at times steamy, but I couldn’t help loathing the fact that I was reading another “I fell in love with a vampire” book.  However, the copious amount of wine consumption paired with their shared affinity for yoga made for an interesting dynamic between the leading creature characters.  I enjoyed the little details of the book much more in the beginning of the book than the end, when the introduction of a larger force interrupted Diana and Matthew’s lives further.  I have found recently how much I detest books that have grand conspiracies, hatched plans and secret gatherings of over-powerful characters; much to my dismay, A Discovery of Witches contains the latter.  Once that part of the novel was brought to the forefront, I had a hard time committing my self to it’s words.  I did, however, finish this 600+ page book in five days.  So, I can’t say I wasn’t enthralled at some point.

A Discovery of Witches is the first in Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy.  I can confidently tell you I won’t be finishing the series.  It makes me so sad…this book held so much promise for me!  But the twists found in the second half of the book dowsed my interest rather than encourage it.  If you are at all interested in the supernatural and how it relates to modern day science and the history of the world, A Discovery of Witches could be an excellent choice for you.  If you like impossible love stories and affairs between different species (specifically warmbloods and coldbloods), I’d recommend this book.  And let me know what you think.

Enjoy your weekend!

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