Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Monday, May 30, 2016
Why I chose this book:
I have been eyeing this series for a long time now, but have never really gotten around to it. So right after I finished the audiobook version of ACOMAF, I saw that Jennifer Ikeda, the same narrator of ACOMAF, narrated the audiobooks for this series, so I decided that this was the best time to start.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Publisher: Viking Penguin
Release Date: February 8th, 2011
Genre: Adult, Paranormal
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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. (Goodreads)

My Bookish Thoughts:
If I had to sum this book up in one sentence it would be this: A Discovery of Witches is basically a more feminist, intelligent, and well-written version of Twilight. So all the beef you had with Twilight, but you still liked the concept of a human or witch (in this case) falling in love with a vampire, then this book is definitely for you.

It started off EXTREMELY slow, but this is a good story, with interesting and intelligent characters, so don't let that keep you from trudging through the first couple chapters! Matthew, the vampire, is a freaking scientist/geneticist while Diana is a renowned historian in alchemical writings and other equally cool stuff. So these characters are intelligent, which was a huge relief for me, because I was not interested in reading another Twilight, which is what has kept me from reading this series for so long.

I will say that this book has so much to it. There is a lot of backstory, character histories, in depth world building, and historical tangents in this book, so if you don’t like history or mind reading a few pages of backstory for a minor character, this may not be to your liking. But I will say that the audiobook makes this part of the story a little bit easier to manage, not to mention the fact that Jennifer Ikeda is a freaking goddess when it comes to accents and making each character distinct.

About 10% in I fell in love with this book. I listened to almost half of it before pausing for the night, which is saying a lot since the book is 24 hours long. If you want an in depth book, and your tired of the plain jane stuff in YA, this is a good one to give you a bit of a break.

Final Thoughts:
I was only halfway through when I decided that I had to have the next two books in the series. I had that much assurance in loving this book that I bought the next two audiobooks… to me, that says a lot. So this is a book that I would highly recommend to the history lovers, romance swooners, and academic bookworms alike. Be ready for an adventure with of witches, daemons, and vampires, and don’t be ashamed to enjoy every single bit of it.

I gave this book 5 stars.


  1. I always enjoy people's thoughts on this series as I really enjoyed it (after many abortive attempts to read the first book). For some reason I haven't started the third, I think I am very nervous about seeing where everything is going to go and how it will end. I agree that it is filled with a lot of story, all the characters have a long backstory and it's complex, that's another reason I haven't started the third, I feel I need to refresh my memory before going into it because I don't want to forget what's happened. I adored the history in the series, the actual history and historical references as I studied it at uni so it's so nice to see dedication to try and make the story feel landed in genuine events. I can't wait to see your thoughts on the next books.

    1. Yeah! I agree! You can tell how much research and work was put into this book. And the second book! God! I just started the second one last night and right off the bat, I could tell how entirely drenched in the history it was and it made my little heart pitter patter excitedly! I will definitely be posting reviews for the next books, so definitely keep an eye out! :)

  2. I LOVE this series. I am sure you will love the last two books.


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