“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
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 :)
Cover image: Christ Church Meadow Dawn