A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness – a book review


Title: A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1)

Author: Deborah Harkness

Date of publication: February 2011

Publisher: Viking Penguin

Print length: Hardcover, 579 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Romance

Edition: Hardcover

You can buy this book from Amazon

What a stunning debut novel! I’m not the biggest fan of fantasy, but reading ‘A discovery of witches’ might have taken me off the beaten path, introducing me towards this genre. I have found this book to be amazing! I have picked up this book after I had watched the TV show and while the main points of the plot were very similar, the book still is quite different. The plot was well developed and quite unpredictable even though I knew some key events from the TV show. I was, nevertheless, surprised by some aspects of scenery or characters.

In Oxford’s Bodleian Library, Diana Bishop unintentionally calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. After the death of her parents, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery, even though she comes from an ancient, respectable line of witches. After a glance and a few notes, she sends the document back into the library’s archive. Her serendipitous finding has awakened the attention of otherworldly beings, gathering demons, vampires and witches alike back into Oxford. Diana has stumbled upon a bewitched manuscript lost for centuries. She is the only one who can break the spell. Mathew Clairmont, an aged vampire, has a distinct interest for that particular book since he believes it contains the secret of evolution. As the novel progresses, their path intertwine.

The introduction, just like the denouement, was compelling and open to the events about to come. I think this book built up the atmosphere, characters, and possibility of what could be, in my opinion, a remarkable trilogy. There are plenty of plot twists. The action is complex, the tome ends on a cliff-hanger, making the reader fascinated and willing to read more in this world. The progress was neither too rushed, nor too slow, considering the length of the novel. It felt like unity every event falling into place in the puzzle represented by the plot. I can’t say much about the original writing, as I haven’t read it in the original. The translation was well executed and was pleasant to read.

Diana Bishop is the main character in the story. She is a round character that I think portrays many attributes. She has her insecurities while still being a strong-minded persona. Her magical powers are surprisingly strong, even for a witch, making one afraid to provoke her. Mathew Claremont is the love interest of the story. He is quite mysterious and has plenty of charisma. I think he has a complementary personality to that of his love interest. More often than not, I found Mathew to be grounded, with his head on his shoulders. I enjoyed the strangeness around him and his passion for wine. I think he had some memorable lines, being pleasant to decipher his persona. Even though there will be times when you might want to scream at the book for how the events unfold, the result will always be spectacular, revealing sub-plots. The characters are realistic. I think I did like Marcus the most. I wish to discover him further in coming books than in this first novel.

I think that the ‘All The Souls’ trilogy, having ‘A Discovery of Witches’ as the first volume, can interest a wide range of readers. To some extent, it gave me the Harry Potter vibes, as I think it will be a very loved series (not only by me but by many other generations), involving a magical world that coexists with that of humans. I highly recommend this book to teenagers and adults alike. I’m looking forward to continuing with the series!

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