Book Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Title: A Discovery of Witches

Author: Deborah Harkness

Publication Date: 2011

Book Description (from

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.

I loved it! Loved it, loved it, LOVED it.  (can I stop here?)

I’d heard that if you liked the Harry Potter books, and weren’t 12, you would like this book. So I decided to put it on my reading  list just to give it a try. Imagine my surprise when I went to pick up the book at the library and it was 579 pages. WOO HOO!

This book is about witches, vampires, and daemons – but it’s for adults. I don’t mean to say that its erotic or dirty, it just wasn’t written for 12 year olds. The two main characters are a historian of science and a scientist/doctor, so there was a lot of history and science to this book. On more than one occasion I had slow down or re-read sections to make sure that I was catching everything. I have never been a history buff, so I was learning somethings (there was some truth to the history parts of the book) for the first time. I really enjoyed that I couldn’t blow through this book in 2 nights. It definitely was NOT an “easy read.” I’m not saying that it was hard to follow or understand, it was just… a grown up book 🙂

I love that main characters were vampires but the book wasn’t gross. The author did a great job of making sure you knew how dangerous vampires could be without grossing you out. My mom cannot read vampire books or see vampire movies, but I think this one she could swing without a problem. Oh, and the vampires didn’t sparkle. Or burst into flames if they went outside during the daylight. And they ate some foods and drank wine. There was a sensual side to the book also, but it wasn’t dirty/erotic. It was nice seeing a physical attraction between two characters that didn’t leave to a very graphic sex scene on the next page. I don’t want to give too much away, but I was impressed with how things went down in the bedroom. Tee hee.

I went into this book not having a clue that it was the first of three. Halfway through the book I thought to myself “most books would be over by now.” And within about 70 pages of the end I thought “there HAS to be another book.” I was happy with the way things ended, but knew there had to be another book. So I immediate ran to the computer and pulled the book up on Amazon. I was very happy to see that book 2 will be out in less than 2 months. At least now I know what to ask for for my birthday 🙂

So if you liked Harry Potter, or like books about vampires and witches, or like books about history (or all of the above), you should definitely give this one a shot!

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      • Kristel says:

        Fantastic! I used to practice Wicca back in college, so I’m always after a bit of “magick”. 😉 An adult witch story would be a refreshing break from all the YAs I’ve seen.

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