I received this book from family during Christmas. I put it on my wishlist because I think it was recommended based on what I usually read. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and if you like this kind of genre, highly recommend it!
The Discovery of Witches is an adult supernatural fantasy novel, the first book of the All Souls Trilogy, written by Deborah Harkness. It was on the New York Times Bestseller list. The story surrounds a woman named Diana Bishop who came from two powerful lines of witches (both of her parents were practically from royal lineage, if there was such a thing in this particular world). They died when she was young, leaving her to believe that witchcraft should be avoided at all costs. Every time she consciously uses magic (only in times of emergency and only a few times a year) she feels guilty and treats it like an addiction she is trying to control.
In an effort to avoid magic, she chooses a career in history, which she does very well. She becomes a researcher and professor at Oxford University. In pursuit of her studies, the story opens with her checking out a particular old manuscript which definitely has some magic protection on it. She gets what she needs for her thesis and then promptly returns the book. However, in opening the book, she ends up opening a whole can of worms that brings the entire supernatural world down on her.
Harkness uses both history and science to create this world, as well as to move the plot along. In Harkness’s world, there are four races – human, witch, vampire and daemon. The latter three have taken great lengths to keep themselves hidden from the humans. Witches are born to witches. Vampires make other vampires. Daemons can be born to either witches or humans, and there is no rhyme or reason to it. Also, they talk a lot about different moments in history, which is generally a topic when vampires are involved, but is a fascination to Diana, being a historian.
There is also romance in this book. Matthew Clairmont, a very respected vampire, was drawn to her at first because of the manuscript, but eventually falls in love with her. However, there is a very distinct rule that witches and vampires are not suppose to date in case it casts attention to the supernatural world from the humans. The rule is also grounded in prejudice and control. Diana is oblivious to all of this since she renounced her magic and all things connected to it for most of her life, however she has to learn quickly the politics of this world or it might mean her life.
There were some pleasant surprises in reading this book. The violent and sexual aspects of this book are pretty mild as far as adult books go. It really reminded me of Twilight and the nature of Bella and Edward’s relationship through the first three books of that series.
The only thing I didn’t prefer about this book was the severe attention to detail. It felt like it was going to be important to the story later on, but most of it ended up just being unnecessary in my opinion. She would describe every meal, every outfit, every moment of every day. There wasn’t a single thing left to imagination, even down to the specific wine at every meal. I suppose that kept me in the specific world that Harkness creates, but I felt like it slowed the story down a bit.
Even though it seemed slow at times, I would still recommend the book. The story is definitely captivating and the cliffhanger at the end truly made me excited for the next book in the series. It’s definitely one I added to my wish list!
If you have any recommendations for future books or book series, please let me know in the comments below. If you have read The Discovery of Witches, what did you think of it?