February 24, 2011

Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches: A Novel

In the magical world that Deborah Harkness creates there are witches, vampires and daemons that exist unbeknownst to us. When Diana Bishop was young she lost her parents and she turned her back on anything to do with magic. Now she's a scholar researching old manuscripts at Oxford's Bodleian Library.

During one session she calls up a manuscript that has a strange power. She instantly knows that it's bewitched and somehow resists the pull of the magic within. After she returns the book she notices that over the next few days there is a sudden increase in the number of magical creatures in the library and the general area. This is a concern because whenever a large number of magical creatures gather the chances of humans noticing something strange increases.

One of these magical creatures is Matthew Clairmont, a centuries old vampire. Matthew has a growing interest in Diana and takes it upon himself to protect her from the increasingly agitated creatures. It seems that the mysterious manuscript, Ashmole 742, has long been sought after by witches, vampires and daemons alike. The book holds secrets that can shift the power balance in our world.

Now together Diana and Matthew have to figure out how to call up the book again while avoiding those who want Diana for the power she has over the book. But as they grow closer they are thumbing their noses at the Congregation, the nine members (3 of each species) that rule the magical world because of the rule that forbids creatures of different species from mating. Will the pair avoid trouble and find the answers they are looking for before war breaks out between those willing to defend them and those that support the Congregation?

Phew, I think that is the longest synopsis I have ever written on my blog but this book is a whopping 579 pages and it's jammed packed with history and back story that was essential to a believable storyline.

A Discovery of Witches had a bit of a slow start but once I got about a third of the way through the book the pace picked up and the storyline got a lot more interesting. I love the way Harkness created such an authentic world for her characters. I was a little disappointed by the romance between Diana and Matthew. I understand that to a vampire that was born in 537 time is measured differently but the lack of progress in the relationship was a bit of a downer for me.

When I started A Discovery of Witches I had no idea that this was the beginning of a series. As I got down to the last few pages I started getting that feeling that there weren't enough pages left to get me to a satisfactory ending and sure enough there is a huge cliff hanger at the end but I was far from disappointed by the ending. I cannot wait for the next book and recommend this read for anyone who loves intrigue and paranormal suspense.


bermudaonion said...

My sister loved this book and said she didn't want to put it down once she got into it.