Author: Deborah Harkness
Publisher: Viking Adult
Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.
A Discovery of Witches is the debut novel by Deborah Harkness. First, let me say that this book is long. It comes in at 579 pages and the audiobook (which I listened to) is about 24 hours of listening time. But, it was well worth the time. It is very a descriptive piece of writing, but really that really enhanced the book and I think would have taken away from the story had the author tried to use less words. Jennifer Ikeda, the narrator, did a wonderful job with her narration and character voices.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect going into this book. I can say now that I am so glad I gave it a shot. I loved this book. I was afraid it was going to be another "Davinci Code" type book, but what I got instead was a beautiful love story filled with history, intrigue and lots of emotion. A Discovery of Witches is in some ways a Romeo and Juliet story. Diana and Matthew are two creatures who find love despite the laws that say a witch and vampire can't love each other. As a result, they find themselves in a war, fighting for their lives and for those around them. Diana and Matthew are 2 characters that I won't soon forget. I loved how their relationship slowly gained momentum over time and was actually based on more than lust. Matthew's courtship of Diana was very touching. In addition to their relationship with each other, I enjoyed their interactions with their friends and family. The secondary characters in this book really enhanced the story.
Ms. Harkness has created a wonderful, unique world in which vampires, witches and demons exist, but humans are, for the most part, ignorant of them. I liked that she changed the mythology on vampires and demons in her world. They don't have to avoid the sun, they don't have to live in a mostly rainy region, and their fangs only come out when the have to feed. Demons are born as demons, they aren't possessed. They are very smart and not necessarily evil. It was a nice change of pace.
I would definitely recommend this book. According to the author's website, this is the first in a trilogy. I hope the next book comes out soon, because the ending made me want more. Can we say, "cliffhanger"? There is so much packed into this book, that I won't try to sum it up. I'll let you discover it as I did; by letting the story unfold and enjoying the journey.