REVIEW: ‘A Discovery of Witches’ by Deborah Harkness (All Souls #1)

Hardcover: 592 pages

Publisher: Viking Adult

Release Date: February 8, 2011

Setting: England, France & America

Series: ‘All Souls’ Trilogy

When historian Diana Bishop opens a bewitched alchemical manuscript in Oxford’s Bodleian Library it represents an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordinary life. Though descended from a long line of witches, she is determined to remain untouched by her family’s legacy. She banishes the manuscript to the stacks, but Diana finds it impossible to hold the world of magic at bay any longer.
For witches are not the only otherworldly creatures living alongside humans. There are also creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires who become interested in the witch’s discovery. They believe that the manuscript contains important clues about the past and the future, and want to know how Diana Bishop has been able to get her hands on the elusive volume.
Chief among the creatures who gather around Diana is vampire Matthew Clairmont, a geneticist with a passion for Darwin. Together, Diana and Matthew embark on a journey to understand the manuscript’s secrets. But the relationship that develops between the ages-old vampire and the spellbound witch threatens to unravel the fragile peace that has long existed between creatures and humans—and will certainly transform Diana’s world as well.

My Thoughts

After carefully considering all kinds of reviews for this book, I decided I needed to take a risk and see what all the magic was about. As soon as I got my order from Amazon, I knew I would love this book. Just by looking at the cover, I knew that what was waiting for me within those pages would make me want to read more and more. And luckily, I was right! I guess I should trust my instincts more.

The fascinating story world Deborah Harkness created is something that was simply made for my taste. It was just my kind of book. I’ve always been passionate about history and the supernatural, and to have it all mixed with the interesting theories of alchemy, well, let’s just say it got me hooked!

A Discovery of Witches, or ADOW short, is set in Oxford, which then moves along to France and America. Diana Bishop, a historian, discovers an enchanted manuscript that calls to her long forgotten powers, because you see, Diana doesn’t want to be a witch, refuses to use her powers after losing her parents. She blames magic for her twisted life, so she tries to act as humanly possible.

It’s pretty hard though when the blood inside of you comes from a lineage of very powerful witches, one that dates back to the first witch burned at Salem. Add to that the amount of supernatural creatures turning up at the Bodleian Library, where Diana first discovered Ashmole 782 (the manuscript), and a very sexy vampire needing her help in solving a mystery, well, you get a very juicy story.

Did I mention that the sexy vampire also known as Matthew Clairmont is a 1500-year-old geneticist with a love for wine and yoga? SIGH! Where are all these lovely men hiding in the real world? It’s just not fair.

Well anyways, as a history lover, I especially enjoyed the parts where Deborah Harkness explained historical backgrounds. It’s a really intelligent book and her writing is simply breathtaking! As a history teacher herself, I imagine she knows exactly what she’s talking about!

The love story that blossoms between Matthew and Diana is pretty mesmerizing. It happens really fast, well for them at least, because the book is really long, but it’s really believable and I couldn’t get enough of it!

After finishing the book, I just had to read it again, memorize every detail so that it could stay with me for longer. I fell in love with Matthew and I’m not sorry I did. The only thing I regret is the fact that I have to wait so long for the sequel. Upon seeing the success of this first installment, Deborah Harkness announced that this will be a trilogy and the sequel will be out sometime in 2012. Now imagine reading this early 2011!

Anyways, I cannot wait for “Shadow of Night” which comes out July 10, 2012! I’m sure it will be a worthy installment and I’ll love it as much as I loved this first book of the series.

I’m not exaggerating when I’m saying that this is my absolute favorite all-time novel ever! I don’t see any other book surpassing this, as this has everything I love in it. I just hope Deborah Harkness never stops writing!

Rating: 🌙  – a golden moon!

(review edited on March 12, 2012)



Happy Holidays & Novel Update – Impossible does not exist.

Hello everybody!

First of all, I’d like to wish you all a Merry Christmas. I hope you’re enjoying your holidays, eating chocolate and cakes. Counting calories is a no-no at this time of year! I’m spending my holidays in Romania this year and it’s good to be back. I’m also excited that my birthday is coming up on Monday!! I’ll be 20 years old. Wow. Can’t believe it. I feel different somehow, this birthday more important than the 18th.

I’ve been working these two years on finding an idea, on writing a story and setting my priorities in the right order. It was no easy feat. I finally feel that I’ve found what I’ve been looking for, finally willing to risk writing this book that seems to want to write itself. I’ve finished four chapters in two days and it’s already more than I’ve written for my other novels. It’s probably still the excitement of the first days since the idea settled in. The one thing that makes me certain that I’ll continue writing this story is the fact that I’m already falling in love with one of my characters. They are all special, all having traits and feelings that I want to explore more. Who knows, maybe I’ll write their stories as well!

What I can tell you about the novel without spoiling the idea is that it features angels, archangels and demons. There are probably hundreds of books featuring these fabulous creatures, but I feel like this idea is different, unlike anything I’ve seen or read till now and it makes me excited to be the one writing it. I’ve had my mum and my brother read the work I’ve done till now and they were impressed. I was scared at first, didn’t know if my work was good enough. I was afraid of criticism even though I specifically told them to tell me the truth. It proved that I didn’t need to worry. My mother, who read my earlier attempts at a novel, said that my writing had improved lots, that reading the lines I’ve written, she got the feeling that a more experienced novelist wrote them. I was blown away by that comment. She told me she was proud of me and asked me never to give up on writing. It almost brought me to tears. The fact that my brother also liked what I wrote is even more of a shock. He’s not a fan of paranormal romance, but was captivated even from the first chapter. He made me promise to let him read everything I write from now on. It boosted my confidence.

So all in all, this year has been a good one, with its ups and downs, but it feels like my future is starting to shape into what its meant to be. Don’t ever give up doing what your good at and follow your dreams. No idea or dream is too small. Impossible does not exist. Live by this motto and you’ll see all the possibilities unfold.

Wishing you all happy holidays, much love and good health,

Iulia Lesley xo