A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness [Review]


I read a lot about the supernatural and mythology. When I say a lot what I mean is my bookshelves tend to look like something out of an occult shop. Generally I find supernatural fiction to be trite, contrived, and books that should never be written, but I’m pleased to say that Deborah Harkness’ debut novel A Discovery of Witches breaks all of these stereotypes.

A Discovery of Witches not only had me hooked from the first page, but I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to continue the story. The reason for this is because Harkness doesn’t just rely on the fads of the supernatural or mythological creatures to carry the story; she actually puts thought into her characters and even injects some science and history into her story!

Diana Bishop comes from a long line of witches (this is where I almost didn’t pick up the book. Any novel that starts with “long line of witches” can’t be good), but after losing everyone close to her because of their linage, Diana rejects magic and everything adjacent to it. She decides to live exclusively as a human with no magic, and is now a scholar at Oxford University.

During her studies a mysterious book appears that sends her witch senses tingling. “Ashmole 782” is apparently pretty well known through the witch, vampire, and daemon community. It’s an ancient text that could very well hold the demise of all these creatures, and Diana wants nothing to do with it.

Enter Matthew Clairmont, a vampire scientist who wants to help Diana with Ashmole 782… and who Diana has an instant connection to. Now, this normally would have me throwing the book across the room (really, another vampire romance?) but somehow Harkness makes it work!

A Discovery of Witches isn’t perfect by any means. It’s obvious that this is Harkness’ first novel with foreshadowing that isn’t really foreshadowing, but more like spoon feeding the reader the information that she wants them to have. Diana became a little disappointing for the female population with her reactions to Matthew. Suddenly this intelligent 30 something PHD scholar is swooning like a teenager over this stranger… not to mention it takes them three weeks to realize that it’s true love forever.

Other than those minor issues, A Discovery of Witches is a great read, fun, fast, quick, at times witty, and gives you some science with your paranormal.

I would recommend this to anyone that likes supernatural fiction or is even looking for a way to break into the genre.

You can purchase ‘A Discovery of Witches’ on Amazon.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars | Publisher: Viking Adult | Pages: 592 | Source: Publisher

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