"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies...The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R Martin

02 April 2012

Review: A Discovery of Witches - Deborah Harkness

This book completely suprised me as I was quite expecting it to be good but not quite as good as it was. I am completely hooked now and just want to read the next book, Shadow of the Night, now, but it isn't out until the summer! Boo. This is the first book in Deborah Harkness' All Souls Trilogy and it is such a good book and you all should read it right now!

Here's my review for A Discovery of Witches:

4.5 stars - An amazing book, such a good story that completely had me under its spell!

This book was recommended to me by a friend on Goodreads and to be honest I was quite unsure whether it would be my kind of book. I tend to stay clear of paranormal books especially ones mainly concerned with romance and relationships in such a way that it may deter from the story in any way. I just don’t find books with vampires and such paranormal creatures very interesting, so when I saw that this book contained vampires, witches and daemons I silently groaned. But I started it…and was proved wrong. Totally wrong. I enjoyed the maturity of the text and its characters and I could see me enjoying other paranormal books if they were similar to this. The characters were mature adults and I liked the fact that I wasn’t reading some book about teenage angst. I don’t tend to read books that take place in a modern world, but this book with its creatures and intricate history made it more like a fantasy book, which is my favourite genre to read.

I’m not quite sure why but I was reminded of Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian (that I also enjoyed!). It may have been the paranormal/vampire aspect or the setting in a college or just the books or manuscripts but there was a similarity and I just knew that I’d thoroughly enjoy the story just as I enjoyed The Historian. As soon as the book began I was interested and intrigued. It may have been the setting of the story immediately in a library, amongst old manuscripts and books and the introduction of a mysterious manuscript immediately had my attention. I don’t know how but I just knew that this book would be an interesting read and a mature one. By mature, I mean that it dealt with the lives of adult protagonists with grown up problems and worries. I just knew that I wasn’t reading a book similar to Twilight (which I haven’t read so really can’t comment on!) but I liked that the story wasn’t centred on the problems of young adults and teenagers. There was also a nice element of mystery and a feeling of suspense, right from the beginning and it just sucks you in and keeps you wanting some more information and just know what will happen next.

One of the most interesting parts of the book in my opinion was the mixture of magic and history. I enjoyed reading that the great events and minds of history were linked with magic in some way (don’t want to spoil it too much!) but as a history lover I just loved those little ideas and insights.

I loved all of the characters especially the main protagonists. They all added an extra layer to the story, were all well fleshed out and they all had differing personalities that gave us little insights into their lives as vampires, witches and daemons. I really felt for Diana who seemingly shunned her life of magic as a witch. She truly wanted her academic work and the life that she had built for herself to be solely based on hard work and determination and not furthered by magic. I also enjoyed reading a story with a strong intelligent female who refuses to rely on others but wants independence. She was a believable and realistic character (well maybe not the part about being a witch!) and I enjoyed how she evolved and transformed as the novel progressed.

I must confess I am in love with Matthew. I feel like some young teenage girl with a crush. But he is just the perfect gentleman. He’s fiercely protective, loves passionately and angers pretty easily (well I thought so!). There are many, many layers to his personality and Diana tries to slowly peel those layers back to try to reveal the man beneath the vampire. I’m looking forward to what aspect of his character we see in the next book.

Another aspect of the novel that I really enjoyed was the depictions of the numerous different creatures; witches, daemons, vampires. The author didn’t just simply rely on stereotypical depictions of the creatures and shaped them for her own use and added a layer of originality to the story.

The only reason why I didn’t give it a full five stars is just because at times I felt like the story was moving a bit too slowly. I guess that the whole foundation of the story needed to be set and the relationships between the characters needed to develop, but the descriptions of Diana exercising slowly become a bit…boring? I’m not saying that the beginning wasn’t intriguing because it was and I really enjoyed the blossoming of Diana and Matthew’s relationship but speeding things up a bit would have got the momentum going. But once you get into the story there is just always something happening and you are pulled into the story and are taking on the same journey as Diana and Matthew and feel every bit of pain and joy that they do.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Simply put, it is just a good, good story. You can just get caught up in the story and taken on one hell of an interesting adventure, and the end will surely shock and annoy you, because you will just want to know what is going to happen next. I cannot wait to get hold of a copy of the next book and its going to be one amazing sequel!


  1. Hi Becca .. good to meet you .. and I've just emailed you .. or will be! This should be an interesting book and The Historian .. I'm not really into paranormal - preferring the simple route! .. but am always open to things. Sadly I don't read enough .. I look through things as you'll have gathered from my blog and 'weave' things together for my normal posts -

    But good to meet you and see you live in Wales - none of the Castles you mentioned are being featured in my blog - certainly there's one in Wales and one or two on the borders ..

    Cheers - see you soon .. Hilary

  2. Glad to see you enjoyed this one. I happen to be a big fan of the paranormal stuff, so I will definitely have to check it out. Also pleased to hear you liked the characters! No matter how good a story is, if you have bad characters, it can really ruin a book for me. Anyway, great review! :)


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