A Discovery of Witches

All Souls Trilogy, #1

A phenomenal work, A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness melds magic and science in a beautifully crafted tale.ÿ A fantastical tale that blends a love of scholarship conveyed through erudite references to Oxford University and its wealth of manuscripts available in the Bodleian Library with an entirely believable society wherein witches, vampires and daemons coexist with primarily oblivious humans.ÿ Harkness effortlessly transports the reader to the peaceful world that surrounds the University with her vivid descriptions of the joys of rowing a scull and the care provided by the porters and conjures up the tradition inculcated in the various colleges of Oxford.ÿ The gradually unfolding mystery that surrounds a manuscript that Dr. Diana Bishop has consulted causes an upheaval amongst the non-humans who all have their own agenda with respect to the elusive item which has been missing for decades.ÿ Diana must not only face her own shortcomings and decide whether to continue suppressing her magic but she must find a way to navigate the perilous shoals of dealing with a charismatic vampire named Matthew Clairmont who has his own agenda.ÿ An intriguing mixture of science and mysticism permeates the tale which gives another dimension to the works of such greats as Charles Darwin and Christopher Marlowe while addressing the thorny question of purity of the races versus interbreeding.

A thought-provoking yet enthralling first novel which weaves its own enchantment upon the reader. The leisurely pace allows one to become immersed in the world that Ms. Harkness has created and may even educate non-oenophiles about the mysteries of the art of winemaking.ÿ The action gets a bit rushed and uneven in the last third of the book with new characters suddenly appearing but the reader should be able to adapt as well as the Bishop house to the developments.ÿ Unfortunately, this is the first volume in a trilogy but the author masterfully creates her cliffhanger in such a way that the reader is necessarily impatient but will find solace in revisiting sections of this novel and making new discoveries all over again. Kudos to a meteorically rising new fantasy author.

Reissued Review. Originally reviewed 03-16-2011. Now in Trade Size and Hardback.


Book Blurb for A Discovery of Witches

A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.


Night Owl Reviews Dec, 2011 5.00