Review: A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness

a-discovery-of-witchesSynopsis: When historian Diana Bishop opens an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it’s an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life. Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent death of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft. Now Diana has unwittingly exposed herself to a world she’s kept at bay for years; one of powerful witches, creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires. Sensing the significance of Diana’s discovery, the creatures gather in Oxford, among them the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire genticist. Diana is inexplicably drawn to Matthew and, in a shadowy world of half-truths and old enmities, ties herself to him without fully understanding the ancient line they are crossing. As they begin to unlock the secrets of the manuscript and their feelings for each other deepen, so the fragile balance of peace unravels…

Title: A Discovery of Witches
Author: Deborah Harkness
Publisher: Headline
Pub Date: 8th February 2011
Pages: 688
ISBN: 9780755374045

Rating: 5stars

“Just because something seems impossible doesn’t make it untrue,”

I am irrevocably and utterly in love with a fictional character. It is done, there is no turning back.

marryI was lent A Discovery of Witches around a year ago by a friend who, upon finishing the book, smugly informed me she knew I’d fall in love with the male lead and it was the entire reason why she pushed me to read it. That and the fact that this is an incredible piece of contemporary fantasy writing.

Despite being a tome of a book, the story never falters, but winds this way and that, weaving different characters in and out to keep you hooked right until the end. The writing is seamless and paced perfectly – gripping but not so action-packed that it becomes anti-climactic.

This is also the first ‘paranormal romance’ that I’ve read in a long while that hasn’t made me die a little inside. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cheesy as hell but it complements the storyline in a way that isn’t distracting.

And the plot? What the heck is going on?! I just can’t figure out the end of this book, which is a rare occurrence for a YA fantasy novel. I’m constantly scared for my favourite characters, unsure of whether Harkness will be one of those authors that kills someone off or not.

There is also no cliff-hanger that makes the book feel unfinished. Rather, the story rounds off in a nice way, with a new plot just beginning. There’s enough for you to feel like you’ve actually finished a book and enough intrigue to keep you screaming for more.

All in all, A Discovery of Witches is a brilliant, well-rounded read. Don’t be put off by its size, it’s worth it! Bring on book two and three.



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