Book one in the All Soul’s Trilogy, third reading.
I own a copy of this book
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.
Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.
If you know me, if you have read any of my blog, or are a patron at my library then you know I LOVE this trilogy. This is without a doubt my favorite story. Sure there are some newer books that are creeping up there in my favor, The Martian for example, and there are even authors I adore more, Kenyon, but this story… these characters will always hold a special place in my heart and imagination. This is my third read of this book, I re-read it before the release of book two, and plan to continue on with book two before diving into the end in book three. This is however my first review that I’ve written for A Discovery of Witches and I’m a little perplexed as to where to begin and how to go about writing.
There is so much that happens in this story and quite a bit of world building and character background info in the first third of the book. I must confess it did drag it down a bit as I worked through all the information Harkness throws at us. I can see how and why some people were turned off. This is a complex story though and I was grateful for the background, no matter how anxious I was to get to the heart of the story. The first time through I loved all of this information as I got lost in the tale, but this time I know how things are going to go and I was a bit more impatient waiting for things to get started.
There is so much going on and I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t read the book, so I’m not going to go into details of different events, but I was surprised about how much I had forgotten or never noticed in my first and second reading. I love that there were still details for me to learn, like little lost treasures waiting for me to find. This is not a story to be rushed, which I must have done in the first reading, it is one to be savored in order to catch-all the nuances and bits of history the author shares with us.
So why do I love it so much? What makes it work for me? The complexity for sure, I enjoy getting lost in this world and all the real history the author weaves in to it. The characters as well. Matthew is probably my favorite lead male out there. He isn’t perfect, he is one of those awful alpha males that is too controlling and has much to quick of a temper, but there is so much beyond that with him. He is fiercely loyal, protective and stand up for those who are being persecuted. He and Diana are a perfect match, balancing each other. She doesn’t let him get away with his domineering crap and he grounds her, forcing her to face who she truly is, a powerful witch. They are two halves that make a whole and in coming together are a force to be reckoned with in their goal to protect those they love. I love the good versus evil aspect of the story as well. This is a divided society where the creatures do not intermix, and those who do often pay with their lives. This fight or struggle of those who would stand up against the authority and seek to change the injustice of the rules placed upon them speaks to me. Perhaps this is also why I love the dystopian stories as well. It also pulls at my heart and I find myself identifying with Diana’s loss of her parents as well as her identity at such a young age. I too lost my parents and found it very easy to empathize with her. And finally I love how all these different creatures come together and form this unique family. Sure they are at odds with each other much of the time, but in the end you know they have each others back.
While I will always enjoy this story, I envy those of you have yet to start this journey. All the wonders and adventures you are about to begin. You can only read a story for the first time once. Enjoy it, and be thankful you started now, when the last part is about to be released. This book is not a stand alone and those of us who had to wait the agonizing months or years between releases have had our patients tested with this one. The end is in sight and I can’t wait.