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Monday, April 04, 2011

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches was a lot of fun, and  I think it works for Carl's Once Upon a Time challenge.

The reviews of this one are completely mixed, but although I agree with some of the criticisms, I thoroughly enjoyed the novel.

There are vampires, witches, and daemons involved in this romp that is part romance, part mystery, and part supernatural, with a dash of history thrown in.  

It IS long, but I never found it tedious (although many reviews cite the length).

Diana is descended from a long line of powerful witches, but as a result of a childhood event, resists using her own powers.  While doing some research at Oxford's Bodleian Library, one of the manuscripts that she touches intrigues her, but she refuses to dwell on it because it exerts a powerful supernatural pull, and Diana resists all supernatural or magical situations. 

As it turns out, many others are interested in this manuscript, and have never been able to put their hands on it.  Magic has made it available to Diana alone.  One of the individuals interested in Ashmolean 782 is the vampire Matthew Clairmont, but witches and daemons are also keeping Diana under observation.

On the whole, the novel is light fare, but I liked the characters and the various settings and characters.  A Discovery of Witches had enough magic and magical creatures to keep me happily turning the pages.

Drawback:  Although not a serious cliff hanger, the reader is left with some elements unresolved and the knowledge that there will be another book in this series.

On the other hand, visiting this world again will be an anticipated pleasure.

Other reviews:   The Bibliophilic, Linus's Blanket,

Fiction. Supernatural/Fantasy.  2011. 579 pages.


  1. Oo, yes! This totally would work for the Once Upon a Time challenge! That's it, I'm placing a hold on it at my library. (Running the very real risk it won't come in until two months after the challenge ends. :p) It looks like fun, and I'll just remember to be prepared for a semi-unfinished ending.

  2. I still haven't had a chance to read this. I was really excited about it, too!

  3. I'm reading this one this month for a book club. I wasn't looking forward to it so I was glad to read you enjoyed the book.

  4. I've got a copy of this book packed away. I'm thinking it will be a great read for October perhaps. :-)

  5. I'm intrigued by this book but still unsure if I will pick it up. And now I'm not sure since it will be a series. Thanks for the review

  6. Thanks for the review. Sorry all the loose ends weren't tied up.

  7. Jenny - It read very quickly for me, and the length was no problem.

    Kailana - Hope you enjoy it--when you get a chance to sit down and read it!

    Man of la Book - I did enjoy it--and I liked the characters. A bit of fluff and romance, but fun!

    Kay - I would be great for Carl's RIP challenge and a perfect Oct. read.

    Bookmagic - The main problem I have with any series is waiting for the next book. Hope it doesn't take Harkness too long to finish the next one.

    Cozy in Texas - The end was as much a beginning of a new chapter as a cliffhanger, so it didn't bother me much.

  8. I am reading this at the moment, and really, really enjoying it!

  9. Marg - I'm glad you are enjoying it, too! I liked the relationships a lot; there was a bit of an old-fashioned feel to the romance.

  10. This does sound intriguing! A similar, but perhaps darker, story is Anne Rice's The Witching Hour. One of the creepiest books I've ever read but sooo enjoyable!

  11. Anne - Oh, The Witching Hour is much darker. This one is a different sub-genre. The Witching Hour was a great read, and as you mention, really creepy! A Discovery of Witches is much lighter fare and not really scary or creepy (or at least not in any sense as dark and creepy as TWH) but still an enjoyable experience!

  12. I find this one so tempting but it is too long for me at the moment. I am a huge fan of The Witching Hour btw. One of the best dark fanatsy books I have ever read. Makes me want to visit New Orleans.

  13. I almost started this one last night but put it off for a shorter book! haha... I do want to read it though. Sounds like a fun read.

  14. Caroline - :) I read TWH years ago, and on a subsequent trip to N.O., someone pointed out a house in the Garden District that they said was the inspiration for the house in the novel. It was appropriately creepy! Whether or not the house was "the house," it matched my imagination.

    Iliana - I love long books, but strangely, this one didn't really feel long.