A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

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’s the only creature who can break its spell.

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed (Albert Einstein)”

Daemons, Vampires, and Witches… Oh my!

I’m actually a little surprised that there are only these three types of supernatural creatures in this world, but hey. It is what it is.

We start off with a young scholar named Diana Bishop. I’m a little envious that she already has her doctorate and she doesn’t seem pretty old at all. Not to mention she’s spending her time in Oxford, one of the most amazing schools in the world. It seems like she’s just doing some regular research work on alchemy, probably working on her thesis or another book that she plans on publishing. Lo and behold, she just so happens to be a witch, and she was actually able to obtain a certain manuscript that has been deemed “missing” for almost a hundred years. And yet, she was able to get it.

That was one part of the story, and while the manuscript called “Ashmole 782” seems to be one of the most important plot devices, we still don’t fully know the extent of its importance. It probably has something to do with the origin of these species, maybe even the extinction or destruction of the species. It’s hard to know because when it was in the possession of Diana, she didn’t think to read through the entire thing or use her powers to figure out why some of the writing was moving and invisible.

Did I mention that Diana is a witch?

I ended up listening to this book in order to get through it. I don’t think I would have read it otherwise, with it being over 600 pages and it was mostly a way for me to pass the time during my commute. I won’t get much more into the book because there’s a potential for a lot of spoilers. I will say that I didn’t really like Diana as the main character. There were a lot of times where she was just really annoying and seemed way too ignorant for her age and for being a witch. Matthew, the vampire guy that she ends up falling for even though it seemed like he was going to attack her at some point, is alright too. Not my favorite vampire in the world, but at least he was worldly and knowledgeable. He also had a lot of doctorates as well, so clearly he was all about education and learning about the world he was imprisoned in for years on end.

I will probably read the second book solely because the first book ended before the coolest thing in the world could happen, which I knew it would because that’s how books like to be. I just want to know what happens next, and I’m curious to find out whether or not there may be other creatures out there, or what would happen if they were ever to mate with one another. I mean, it’s not normal that a witch and a vampire would fall in love and want to get together, so imagine the kind of chaos going on in this book about their love.

Rated: 3/5 

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