Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Deborah Harkness, a professor of history at the University of Southern California, is the brilliant author behind “A Discovery of Witches,” an incredibly innovative and enchanting novel about a witch and a magical manuscript that changes her life forever.

“A Discovery of Witches is the story of a lost alchemical manuscript—Ashmole 782—and its discovery. The historian who finds the book is Diana Bishop, a descendant of the first woman executed for witchcraft in Salem. When Diana calls up the bewitched manuscript in Oxford’s Bodleian Library, her discovery attracts the interest of all sorts of creatures, including a brilliant scientist named Matthew Clairmont who also happens to be a long-lived vampire. A Discovery of Witches follows their efforts to understand Ashmole 782 and to figure out why so many are drawn to this mysterious book.”

For years I have read little more than vampire novels, and as much as I love vampires, it was getting old reading the same cliché plotlines over and over again, and I admit, I was growing tired of the undead. But “A Discovery of Witches” actually made me excited for vampires again. Deborah Harkness has written one of the most fantastic books I have read in ages. A flawless mixture of well-researched history and magic, I couldn’t put this book down.

Full of lavish descriptions, yet never too verbose or tedious, “A Discovery of Witches” is a history lover’s dream. Harkness’ scholarly insights and her beautiful descriptions of libraries, ancient books and buildings made me wish I could crawl inside this book and live there forever – her vampires only added to that desire. The very first time we meet vampire Matthew Clairmont is hands down the best introduction to any character in any book I have read. No exaggeration. Her vampires are perfectly sexy, lethal and enthralling.

The plot itself is incredibly complex, yet perfectly crafted, so you are always on the edge of your seat excited to find out what happens next. But best of all is that “A Discovery of Witches” is believable, from the storyline to the relationships (and romances) between characters – nothing is forced or unrealistically fast – but believable.

Overall I give “A Discovery of Witches” 5 out of 5 stars, I would give it a higher score if I could. It has even earned a spot at the top of my bookshelves, because yes, I organize my hundreds of books by favorites. It’s the highest honor I can bestow upon a book. I HIGHLY recommend this book to those that love ancient vampires, the smell of old books, a glass of good wine, the history of science and magic.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness will be released February 8, 2011. Pre-order it here.
Make sure to also check out the interview I did with the author herself.

– Moonlight

By Moonlight

Moonlight (aka Amanda) loves to write about, read about and learn about everything pertaining to vampires. You will most likely find her huddled over a book of vampire folklore with coffee in hand. Touch her coffee and she may bite you (and not in the fun way).


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