Book Review – A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Genre: Fantasy; Fiction

Rating: 5 / 5

Note: There are NO spoilers in this review. When discussing in the comments, please provide a spoiler warning if needed.

In The Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness – the first book of the All Souls Trilogy – readers meet a witch named Diana Bishop. She’s a witch who never mastered her craft and altogether avoided it for a majority of her life, mostly because she blames her parents’ death on magic.

But, of course, what a woman wants is rarely tied to fate. Through a series of accidents (at least that’s how they appear) Diana meets the vampire Matthew Clairemont and her life changes forever. 

The historical detail mixed in with the unbelievable tension of their relationship was enough to hook me in the first chapter. Without so much as a kiss, Deborah Harkness is able to build up to a sexiness and tension that leaves you screaming for more. On top of that (I’m a sucker for a good vampire romance), Diana’s journey and the conflict surrounding the mysterious alchemical manuscript is fantastical and unlike anything I’ve read. 

In a word, this novel is EXCITING. It’s the perfect book for an adult who loves Young Adult Fantasy but wants to read something for an older audience. 

I first decided to pick up A Discovery of Witches because I’ve been wanting to watch the show on AMC. I always try to read before watching. But I was not expecting to get sucked into this novel this way. It was immediate and overwhelming. 

As a writer, this is the book I wish I wrote. I don’t know if I can say that about anything else. 

This re”vamped” take on witches, vampires, and daemons is spectacular and had me obsessed from page one. 

One key element for me – while the arc of the story is dependent on her relationship to Matthew – the plot and conflict is not driven by any kind of drama between the two of them.

So often when we have a female lead, the story is driven by the back-and-forth relationship-based drama. Yes, Diana and Matthew being together is a key driver of the plot, but this isn’t about their quarrels as a couple – it’s about so much more. And, not going to lie, just LOVE a strong female lead. Diana Bishop takes no shit. I’m here for it. 

I can’t say I read this in a day or one sitting. At nearly 600 pages, this was a huge undertaking. It took a few days, but every moment I was away from the book, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. 

If you haven’t already, please go pick up A Discovery of Witches. Next on my list are the remaining books in the trilogy, so stay tuned for future reviews.

Buy A Discovery of Witches here at Old Town Books (Alexandria, VA) or your local bookstore!
Have you read A Discovery of Witches or any book in the All Souls Trilogy? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

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