A Discovery of Witches review

December 23, 2014

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Our heroine, Diana Bishop, is a real witch. No, really! A real witch – descended from the famous Bridget Bishop of Salem Witch Trials fame. She’s a tenured professor at Yale, on sabbatical at Oxford. Diana tries to stifle her witch powers, but not very well.

While doing her research in Oxford’s Bodleian library Diana finds a book simply referred to as Ashmole 782. Diana looks through the book, discovers that there is hidden text written between the lines of actual text, and … sends it back to the stacks to look at it another time. What she doesn’t know is that 1) the book is enchanted so that only she can open it and 2) it answers a lot of questions about the origin of witches, vampires and demons. Oh, sorry, this is England, so they are daemons. Her discovery of the book causes quite a stir, and soon many supernaturals are stalking her.

One of them is Matthew Clairmont, ancient vampire and biologist/geneticist. He’s French and handsome. But rather than threatening Diana with death until she recalls the book and THEN eating her face off, he falls for her. The supernatural shit starts to hit the fan, and Diana becomes the hunted. Matthew and his small army (literally) of vampires become her protectors.

And then it becomes Twilight for grownups. He watches her in her sleep. He is always carrying her around because she is fragile. (But she’s not! She’s a runner and a rower!) He’s domineering and obnoxious and SPOILEReven marries her without her consent, then refuses to have sex with her because MORALS. And there is even a Volturi-like cabal wanting to make sure vampires and witches never marry or procreate.

This book is very long and has something for everyone. There are chapters about academia and paragraph upon paragraph about teas and wines. If medieval templar-like orders float your boat you’re in luck! Into genetic screening? You’re covered too. Love passages about rowing? It’s in there! Adore creepily-possessive vampire boyfriends and their skeptical families? Winner!

This is what I loved: Diana’s unraveling of the mystery of her childhood and her powers. I loved Diana’s Aunt Sarah, her partner Emily, and their delightful haunted house. The passages about Diana’s magic made me wish I could toss tiny firebolts in real life. I wish Diana could have had her witch coming-of-age story without Matthew lurking around, drugging her so she’ll take naps, and tossing her over his shoulder on a whim. He basically treated her like a toddler.

This is the first book of a trilogy so there are dozens of loose ends. I’m on the fence about book two. I want to know more about Ashmole 782, but I don’t want the vampire romance.

This is the 38th book I read in 2014.View all my reviews on Goodreads!

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