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

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1)
by Deborah Harkness
Summary: A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.
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.

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Source: I purchased a hardcover.


Sometimes it pays to reread a book. I read A Discovery of Witches back in 2011 when it first came out and, while I can’t remember why, I only rated it 3 stars. I don’t know if I expected something else when I first read it, but I remember being disappointed. The second book in the series has caught my eye in just about every place I see it. I kept telling myself I needed to reread the book and find out if it really was disappointing or if I just happened to read it when I was in the mood for something else.
As it turns out, I loved A Discovery of Witches the second time around. I could hardly remember what happened, so the story was refreshing and new to me in a way. I knew a little bit more of what to expect and I was in the mood for a good paranormal story with tons of history and connections. I feel the need to defend the book now that it has captivated me so much.
While the second half of the novel is a tad more focused on romance, it was completely clean, which is quite rare for a non YA novel. Each moment that Diane and Matthew were together, their connection grew and that connection mattered to the plot, which is also rare for any kind of paranormal romance novel. The rich history and the character’s love of that history was seen in just about every page of the book, which was awesome.

I really liked the characters. Diana was fairly wholesome, but she was also fierce and quirky. Her family was loyal and were just like I would always have imagined a witch family to be. Matthew, though a bit too… white collar.. for my taste, was a wonderful character. He was intelligent, mysterious, protective, and I could see why the two connected. Their personalities fit together nicely and they both had similar educational curiosity. Matthew’s family intrigued me. I loved hearing about his past.

I sensed a conspiracy of sorts as the novel progressed. The way the groups of supernatural beings were segregated seemed weird when none of them were really threats to each other. Why were they so against being friends with each other? I’m anxious to see how the series progresses and I can’t wait to find out more about the Congregation and how it came about. What happened to have created rules so strict?

I love how the author was so well versed in history. By having characters so excited about events, novels, and people in the past, I became excited when I read about it. I appreciated the little bits of things Diana noticed.

I know I only rated this book 3 stars the first time, but I don’t understand a lot of the negative reviews, and would say this even when I thought it was just an okay read.. I have no idea why anyone would get any Twilight vibes from the book. Just because a novel features a romance and a vampire does not mean it’s the same story. I understand that Matthew was one of those more sleek and elegant types of vampires and so was Edward, but that’s kind of a persona that vampires would be expected to have. Of course the more wild and animalistic kinds of vampires are also common, but not all vampires have to be Eric’s of True Blood, either. And why do these people who hate vampire romances keep reading vampire romances? I don’t understand. I realize that we all pick up the wrong book sometimes, but if seeing vampires in books makes you throw your hands up and claim it’s just like Twilight, I’m not sure why you read paranormal romance novels in the first place. Just saying…

A Discovery of Witches was an elegant paranormal romance with other supernatural conflict, a rich history, and beautiful writing. I definitely recommend it and I am very glad I decided to try it again. Sometimes, you just gotta be in the mood for something!


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