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Paranormal Mystery Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (All Souls #1)


borrowed from the library

Synopsis from Goodreads
"A wonderfully imaginative grown-up fantasy with all the magic of "Harry Potter" and "Twilight."
-"People"

In a sparkling debut, "A Discovery of Witches" became the "it" book of early 2011, bringing Deborah Harkness into the spotlight and galvanizing fans around the world. In this tale of passion and obsession, Diana Bishop, a young scholar and the descendant of witches, discovers a long-lost and enchanted alchemical manuscript deep in Oxford's Bodleian Library. Its reappearance summons a fantastical underworld, which she navigates with her leading man, vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont. Harkness has created a universe to rival those of Anne Rice, Diana Gabaldon, and Elizabeth Kostova, and she adds a scholar's depth to this riveting story of magic and suspense.


 Amazon  US/UK(£3.86) | Amazon kindle US/UK | The Book Depository US/UK | Fishpond

9.5/10

* * *
Huh, I've only just noticed the comparison with Diana Gabaldon and Elizabeth Kostova in the synopsis. Believe me, this comparison is spot on.. However I'll also add Elizabeth Hunter into the mix. Ladies and gentlemen, this book is utterly gorgeous.


A Discovery of Witches is a long, luscious, intense and or so very rich in details read. I was enjoying every moment of it even if it took two weeks to read the book.

Diana is a witch who's been steadily suppressing her magic since she was seven and her parents were brutally murdered somewhere in Nigeria because they were both witches. Diana is a historian of science and studies alchemy for her current work in Bodleian library of Oxford, when she finds a strange and very old alchemical manuscript Ashmore 782. The book is weird and Diana feels uncomfortable with it so she sends it back on the shelf.

Suddenly, the whole magical society is in uproar. Ashmore 782 has been lost for centuries, it is rumoured to contain the secrets of origins of witches, daemons and vampires and will be a very dangerous weapon in the wrong hands. Everyone wants to know how Diana, an untrained witch broke the spell and if she can get the manuscript for them, but most of all they want to study Diana herself...

However, Matthew Clairmont, an enigmatic vampire scholar gets to Diana first and what starts as a scientific interest turns into a strong alchemical love affair that defies boundaries between creatures established by mysterious Congregation and starts an inevitable chain of events leading to a war between three secret species.

People, there is so much history in this book, so many beautiful details starting from delicate exotic wines in vampire diet and ending by different strains of witchy DNA, that I can not possibly name them all! There is a charming, magical atmosphere among the prejudices and loathing between species, secrets and treachery, there are ancient castles and private jets, and mostly there is a true appreciation for old books. The descriptive power of Miss Harkness is so strong that I can almost smell the old pages and hear them creaking when Diana reads the book.

I also very much enjoyed the slow burn falling n love between Diana and Matthew. They are very different from each other. He's got a lot of predatory urges and inhuman gestures that at times reminded me of Edward Cullen, however things that made him tick and his reactions were very different.

Diana herself is growing into her powers very slowly and mostly uses her mind to solve the problems. Matthew tries to tell her what to do but she follows her heart and does what she thinks is best despite his overprotectiveness.

Overall, this book is near perfect for me - the world-building, the multiple characters and their development, the sheer amount or research that went into it and the chemistry between two main characters turns it into an EPIC read on par with Daughter of Smoke and Bone, The Outlander, The Historian or The Night Circus.

Highly recommended.

 * * *
Абсолютно прекраснейшая книга, которой я просто упивалась 2 недели, что мне понадобились, чтобы её прочитать!

Здесь вас порадует страсть автора к истории и древним манускрипам, интересные гастрономические детали, великолепное построение мира и сложновыстроенные персонажи.

Из Дианы Бишоп и Мэттью Клэйрмонта вышла великолепная харизматичная пара. Она - абсолютно нетренированная могущественная ведьма и историк происхождения науки, изучающая алхимию для своей работы. Он - очень старый вампир, доктор биологических наук, изучающий ДНК трёх секретных рас земли - вампиров, ведьм и демонов; воин и учёный, полный глубоких тайн. Какие-либо отношения между ними невозможны из-за закона Конгрегации трёх рас, ненавидящих друг друга, однако сердцу не прикажешь.

То, что начинается как интерес к утерянному алхимическому манскрипту Ашмор 782, повествующему о происхождении трёх рас, приводит к череде страшных событий, что вынуждает Диану и Мэттью объединить усилия, чтобы выжить в грядущей магической войне.

Я не хочу растекаться мыслью по древу, так как полностью эту книгу пересказывать смысла нет, однако скажу, что критики, сравнивающие Харкнесс с Гэбальдон и Костовой недалеки от цели. В её книге есть что-то совершенно эпичное и захватывающее дух. Я безумно хочу прочитать продолжение и вам советую не проходить мимо этой замечательной книги!

10 comments:

Ula (Blog of Erised) said...

I look forward to reading this one, looks amazing! :)

Ciska van der Lans said...

I read this book twice now and would not mind a bit if I had to pick it up again tomorrow. I did find it easier to read than The Historian or books by Diana Gabaldon. The next in this series is very good too. I hope you are able to pick that one up at the library soon.

Melliane said...

Oh I really need to try this book, I have it in French but well it's big. Yeah I know I'm afraid easily but still I have it so it's a good start.

Maria Behar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maria Behar said...

(I deleted my previous comment because of typos. Lol.)

Hi, Kara-Karina!

Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting on my "Stacking The Shelves" post!!

You know, I've heard SO many great things about this book, I can't believe I haven't read it yet! And if you put it in the same category as "Daughter of Smoke and Bone", which I HAVE read, then, goodness! I have to get it under my belt sometime this year!

Thanks for the well-analyzed review! I really enjoyed reading it! :)

kara-karina@Nocturnal Book Reviews said...

Thanks for a lovely comment, Maria! I think it's one of those books you must read and decide for yourself if you like it. I hope you'll have a chance to do that!

Dehlia, Ula, read it soon! I want to see if you enjoy it just as much as I did! :)

Ciska, I agree about them both. Gabaldon always takes me absolute ages to read :)

kimbacaffeinate said...

Oh *happy dance* I adored this book and wait till you go back in time..eep! Hurry and read the next one chica!

kara-karina@Nocturnal Book Reviews said...

Kimba, I will, I will :))) The next one is on my desk already!

Petra said...

Okay, I'm just reading Night School (so good!), then I just need to read Night School Legacy, but then I'm reading (finally) this!
Because history, old books, vampires and witches, that's exactly what I love! :)

kara-karina@Nocturnal Book Reviews said...

Petra, I'm reading book #2, Shadow of Night right now, and it's wonderful! So I think you'll love this book! Glad to know you are enjoying Night School ;)

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