24 January 2012

Just finished reading

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.

In the world of this book, there are humans and creatures. Creatures are supernatural beings, and there are three types: witches, vampires and daemons. Although there is no open hostility between the three groups of creatures, they do not commingle.

Dr. Diana Bishop is working on a paper at the Bodleian Library in Oxford when she comes across a book which seems to respond to her touch.
The Reading Room of the Bodleian
The last of the Bishops, an august New England family of witches, Diana prefers not to make use of her abilities, maintaining that she wants to succeed as a scholar due to her intelligence and hard work, not magic. Thus, she is somewhat surprised by what happens with Ashmole 728, as the manuscript is called.

She's even more surprised the next day when the library is filled with creatures of all varieties, apparently attracted by the "awakening" of valuable Ashmole 728, which had been missing for centuries. Rushing to escape the magical bedlam, she runs into Dr. Matthew Clairmont, who, though he happens to be a vampire, helps her to elude all those who are suddenly trying to get close to her and therefore, the manuscript.

Diana had returned the book to the stacks, and though she requests it again when she realizes it's importance, it cannot be found. She and Matthew begin to search for it, and as they get to know each other, they fall in love.

Dr. Harkness' universe proves that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to supernatural beings. All three groups are different from each other, and from those described in other literature, though also the same in some respects. The vampires here are quite capable of being in sunlight, although they do survive on blood. Witches (female) and wizards (male) inherit their magic, although they do need to be trained. Not as much concrete information is imparted about daemons here, other than that they can be very powerful, and good or evil (as with all individuals).

Some of the romantic scenes are a bit trite; Diana comes across as a lovesick teenager early in her relationship with Matthew. Once past that, however, Harkness' writing is absorbing, and most of the characters are well-defined. What's important here is the Story, and a compelling one it is.

The ending is something of a cliffhanger, as this is the first volume of a proposed trilogy. The second book in the All Souls Trilogy, Shadow of Night, will be released in July 2012.

The Penguin Group is kindly providing a trade paperback copy of A Discovery of Witches to one of my readers. Please leave a comment below to enter. (Entries from the U.S. only, please.)

*FTC Full Disclosure: Many thanks to the publisher, who sent me a copy of the book for review purposes.


  1. Sounds great, Marlyn. I'd read it just for that gorgeous cover alone. Thanks for the review.

  2. Ashley McConnell1:56 PM

    That sounds like a really interesting book! I'd love to read it!

  3. Anonymous3:03 PM

    I also would love to read this. Thanks for the review!


  4. Thank you all for commenting. Please make sure I have a way to get in touch with you if I draw your name.

  5. I love libraries, so this "haunted library" sounds wonderful to me. Please enter my name in the drawing. Thank you.

    pennyt at hotmail dot com


Thank you so much for dropping by and reading my blog. I do read all comments, and try to respond.


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