Thursday, 14 August 2014

Review: A Discovery of Witches

Title: A Discovery of Witches
Series: All Souls Trilogy #1
Author: Deborah Harkness
Published by: Headline on 1st September 2011
Genre: Fantasy Paranormal Romance Mystery
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Check it out on Goodreads

*I received a copy of this book free from the publisher via BookBridgr for review consideration, this in no way affects my opinion of the book.*

Goodreads Synopsis: 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.

My Thoughts: I have been wanting to read this book for a while now because it sounded like a smart urban romance. Plus, it is set in Oxford and I love Oxford!

The story follows Diana Bishop, a scholar, whose main area of research is in alchemy. She is also an orphaned daughter of two powerful witches, so she is a witch herself, but since her parents murder she has refused to embrace that part of herself. One day, Diana studies an old alchemical manuscript that she senses has some kind of magical power attached to it. Finding it of no immediate use to her research, she returns it and goes on about her day. Unfortunately for Diana, her life does not return to normal, for there are many other supernatural beings who want to get their hands on that manuscrpt and they need Diana to get it. One of these other beings is Matthew Clairmont, an ancient vampire who is to become Diana's love interest.

The romance between these two annoyed me, she is supposed to be a modern independant woman with multiple degrees but as soon as Matthew enters the scene, she is a damsel in distress who is under his control, even when she doesn't realize it. There is some semblance of her telling him that she will not be bossed around, but she isn't very convincing. I was also dissapointed by the lack of passion, there was a couple of steamy kissing scenes but it never goes past that. I am not looking for erotica, but these two talk about how hot they are for each other but barely express it.

I really enjoyed the use of history and science, and this book sent me to google more than a few times to learn more about the mentioned topics. For me this is a good thing because I love learning new things. The writing was beautiful and really brought Oxford to life, made it feel like I was back there.

As much as I loved the writing and the intricate descriptions of Oxford, the book is made far too long with unnecessary description of things such as food, wine and clothing etc., the little minutiae of life that could have been left out without affecting the story. Plus, there was too many mentionings of how people smelled, it got laborious. And although it is supposed to be an intellectual book it's just another urban fantasy that is trying not to be - "a thinking person's Twilight" is something I read somewhere about this book and it is not far from the truth. Even though the book has many flaws, it's just so darn addicting, that I am certain to read the next book in the series.

If you like old fashioned courtly romances with damsels and domineering heroes or if, like me, you just fancy another fairly quick and easy urban romance, then you just may enjoy this one.


  1. Maybe the author tried too hard at being intellectual ;)

  2. Haha I think that definitely is the problem ;-)


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