New Read: A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of WitchesA Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness have sat on my to-be-read shelf for far too long. Earlier this month I received The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness which is the final instalment in the All Souls trilogy. So I had no excuse not to start reading them.

A Discovery of Witches introduces the reader to Dr Diana Bishop. An American scholar who has come to the historic Oxford University, England to study old and rare alchemical volumes held in the library. Diana is no ordinary scholar though she is also a witch who comes from an old and famous family; a fact that Diana tries to ignore. Unbeknownst to Diana  she recalls the bewitched Ashmole 782 from the library’s ancient stacks. Once she touches it a string of unusual and dangerous events are to unfold which will see her thrust into the world of witches, vampires and daemons she has been trying so hard to ignore.

Diana our protagonist comes from a long line of powerful Bishop witches yet has never shown any aptitude or urge to use magic herself. Diana is full of anxiety and fear since the brutal death of her parents when she was only a child. I enjoyed watching Diana grow in strength emotionally as a woman through her trials but also to see her start to release her magical power. Diana is joined by a large cast of paranormal characters. The other we really get to know better is Diana’s love interest Professor Matthew Clairmont; an ancient vampire. Matthew is a good mixture of the negative and positive of his race. He drinks blood, and has anger and possessive issues. Then again I love how he has so much history and experience.

A Discovery of Witches is the first novel I have read by Deborah Harkness, and is the first instalment in the All Souls trilogy. From what I’ve read so far I am looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy. A Discovery of Witches is a well written novel with a detailed and immersive style and world. I simply loved all the historical, alchemical, literature and art references and details that were included; Harkness has clearly done a lot of research for this novel. The only down side for me was the romance. I am not a huge romance fan and this had more romance in it than I had expected. The romance element is strong in this fortunately though there is just enough other things going on that I still enjoyed it. This has dropped it down from a great to a good read.

A Discovery of Witches is a detailed and well written paranormal romance with an interesting measure of history, magic and art. You might enjoy this if you like romance, fantasy, paranormal and/or historical fiction. Good read.

Have you read this? Have you enjoyed other paranormal romances?

A Discovery of Witches is full of magic so I am counting it towards the Once Upon a Time IX event which is hosted by Carl V @ Stainless Steal Droppings.


24 thoughts on “New Read: A Discovery of Witches

  1. I just finished reading this book, and don’t know what to think. For such a fat book, I thought very little happened in it. Have you read the other books in the series? Worth ploughing through?

    1. Nish, I’m sorry to hear this didn’t quite have enough going on for you. I have copies of the rest of the series but I haven’t got round to reading them yet. I hope to get round to Shadow of Night very soon!

  2. I almost gave up on this book, but was glad I finished if only to really enjoy that New England haunted house that is the setting for the last third. I wasn’t too keen on the romance either – that and some other things, like how rich and cultured Matthew was, were things I thought the author went on and on about. I probably won’t finish out the trilogy, but I’m glad I checked the book out for myself.

    I really enjoy Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series, as far as paranormal romance books. I haven’t really stuck with the genre as a whole, though I gave a number of authors/series a go a number of years ago.

    1. Ah yes Christy I really liked the haunted family home too 🙂 I can sympathise with what you said about how rice and cultured Matthew. The first time they talked about wine it was interesting the 20th time just a bit too much. I haven’t heard of Patricia Briggs before but just looked her up and she is a prolific writer, plenty to get stuck into if you like her.

  3. I quite liked the first, like you I wasn’t overly fond of the romance though. Unfortunately the second book I liked less and so I haven’t picked up the third yet. Not sure at this point whether I will finish the series or not.
    Lynn 😀

    1. Oh dear Lynn I am sorry to hear you didn’t like the second novel as much. Doesn’t fill me with the greatest confidence that I will like it either. Oh well I’ve got the books so might as well try them 🙂

  4. I’m with you that I am not thrilled when authors stick a romance in a book that it just doesn’t seem to work. however, if it’s waaaay in the background I am ok with it.. unfortunately this sound like it’s NOT in the background lol… but glad you managed to enjoy it anyway

    1. Thank you Pat. I don’t think I’d say this romance doesn’t work, it is believable and even interesting sometimes just there was just too much of it and in too much detail for me.

  5. I picked up a copy over the winter holidays and I can’t wait to read it. Thankfully with the third one out I can start whenever I want now 😀

    1. Geoff I hope you don’t have to wait long to read this and that when you do you enjoy it. I also love it when I start that the full trilogy or series is out, as I hate to wait! 🙂

  6. I read this last year and enjoyed it. It was something different for me as I don’t often read paranormal books. I didn’t like Shadow of Night as much, but I’m still looking forward to reading the third book.

  7. Ha! Paranormal romance IS my middle name (just kidding!) 🙂 Seriously though, I love that genre, particularly when there is more than heat to go on. I have this trilogy in my pile; I was supposed to get to it by the end of this year, but I have taken on so many books that I wasn’t supposed to that now I’m not so sure I’ll get to it this year after all.

  8. I’m not sure this is for me (romance and the supernatural aren’t genres I usual dip into) but I do appreciate a well researched novel. I think even in the most far reaching fantasy novel, it’s good to have research to fall back on.

  9. I’ve read through the whole trilogy, definitely check out the next books but given some of your apprehensions with things in this first one, I will be curious to see what you think of the next ones. Looking forward to those reviews. – ashley

    1. Hello Ashley, thank you for stopping by and commenting. Always nice to hear from a new face. As I already have the other two books I will definitely move on to them and hopefully soon 🙂

  10. This book has been on my TBR forever, thus it made my TBR Pile Challenge list for this year. I haven’t gotten to it yet but will hopefully in the next few months.

    1. Hello Maren, thank you for stopping by and commenting. Always nice to hear from a new face. I hope you are able to get to this is the next few months and that you enjoy it 🙂

  11. I kept on seeing it on bookshelves in shops, picked it up many times and put it back because I was worried that it would be too “heavy” and I would be lost in it. Although after your review on it, I might pick it up again and keep it! I don’t mind romance and I like paranormal. So why not!

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