A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

“It begins with absence and desire.
It begins with blood and fear.
It begins with a discovery of witches.” 
― Deborah Harkness, A Discovery of Witches

Kuvahaun tulos haulle a discovery of witches book review

A Discovery of Witches is a 2011 fantasy novel and the debut novel by Deborah Harkness. A Discovery of Witches is the first book in All Souls trilogy, continued by Shadow of Night and The Book of Life.

The story of the book follows Diana Bishop, a historian at Yale University who accidentally uses her magic to recall a long-lost manuscript, the Ashmole 782, at Bodleian Library at Oxford University. Diana’s actions attract attention from other supernatural creatures: fellow witches, vampires and demons. One of these supernatural beings is a vampire named Matthew Clairmont with whom Diana soon forms an unlikely alliance. And that alliance becomes much more as the book progresses.

“Just because something seems impossible doesn’t make it untrue,” ― Deborah Harkness, A Discovery of Witches

I loved the first installation of the trilogy and looking forward to read some more. I’ve read enough fantasy to recognize the gems like this. Awkwardly enough, I had no idea this trilogy even existed before the Netflix adaptation came out and my friend recommended I watch it because it had a Finnish witch in it. What drew me in to the book were the descriptions and through that the world building. As historical fantasy, it pulls a lot from actual historical events and phenomena such as world wars and Order of Saint Lazarus but then casually throwing in vampires whose lifespan covers the historical timelines and magic and witchcraft not forgetting the creation of species.

Characters were good. We have Diana who is the miracle child possessing control over all the elements, Matthew who is an extraordinary vampire and even side characters who kick ass. I also loved the relationship between Matthew and Diana. It’s weird because it’s the insta-love which I usually dislike in books but here it somehow made sense. Plot is nice and makes me want to read the next two parts just to find out what happens.

“I was planning on starting a new file on my computer with the title “Phrases That Sound One Way to Witches but Mean Something Else to Vampires.” ― Deborah Harkness, A Discovery of Witches

I’ll give Discovery of Witches 4/5 stars. I dropped one star because I think my opinion on this is affected by not having read fantasy since forever.

How-To Read A Discovery of Witches
1. It’s entertaining piece of historical fantasy if you’re into that, however I think it is not for all fantasy-lovers. Perhaps more for those who like modern/urban fantasy or paranormal romance.
2. I kind of feel that Sarah J. Maas fans would appreciate this. If you haven’t read this already of course.
3. It’s quite long at almost 600 pages or 24 hours on Audible (how I spend my days…) You’re in for an adventure :)

Thoughts? :)

Cover image: Christ Church Meadow Dawn

9 thoughts on “A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

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  1. Witches are never real. Priest condemned people who can write in middle age. They tell for people wbo have knowledge that they are witches.

  2. I’ve always thought the premise of this story sounded so awesome. I love the idea of a long lost manuscript bringing supernatural creatures out of hiding. :)

    Love that image, BTW!

  3. I have a problem with this book/series
    I LOVEEEEEED the first book. I finished it in less than two days (while going to work to teach! meaning I didn’t really sleep).
    Then I saw the plot of the second book and I was aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa Elizabethan England. GimmeGimmeGimme and OH THE DISAPPOINTMENT! I barely finished it. Now there’s the third book in the series, the completion of the overall plot with the Book and everything and I just don’t want to read it.
    I’m a reader who loves everything to do with vampires (and especially those played by Matthew Goode in the TV series) but even those things can’t really make me read the final book.
    I wish I’d stopped at the first book.

    1. Uhhh nuhhh nooooo 😂 I loved the first book too and I’m now listening to the second one and liking it so far but I’m only few chapters in 😅 Your comment scares me! But then you know a lot of trilogies seem to suffer of sequel syndrome… Like I’ve often been so disappointed with second book but eventually happy with the third one so I am hoping that’ll be the case here.

      Netflix series is a gem! Saw that before the book unfortunately so I think it affected me a lot.

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