Review: A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) by Deborah Harkness

Diana Bishop has been trying to keep magic out of her life since she parents died when she was a girl.

She has thrown herself into her work as an alchemy historian and is presently in Oxford researching her next keynote speech.

While at Oxford’s Bodleian Library, Diana calls for an ancient alchemy manuscript, not knowing that it is actually bewitched!

Diana quickly returns the book once she jots down a couple of notes about the book. However, her discovery has drawn the attention of the supernatural world…..vampires, daemons, and other witches.

Suddenly Diana is being stalked by a number of creatures and she can’t help but wonder if it has something to do with the book. Diana has actually stumbled upon a long lost book of coveted treasure….and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

One night in the Bodleian Library, Diana meets a mysterious vampire, Matthew Clairmont. Matthew is of course interested in the book as well, but when he sees Diana in the library he can’t help but find her an intriguing distraction. Having been told to avoid vampires her whole life, against her better judgement, Diana warms up to Matthew and soon she discovers that she is in love with this mysterious vampire.

Creatures mixing with other creatures is strictly forbidden in the supernatural world, so a witch and a vampire are sure to create problems in their world. Will their love be strong enough to withstand the growing tension and will Diana be able to recall the mysterious alchemy book before war breaks out?

This series has been on my radar for a long long time. It’s been recommended to me over and over again by so many people and even though I’ve heard amazing things, I just haven’t gotten around to reading it, until now. I am both happy and sad that I waited so long to do so!

I’m happy because now I can binge read the entire series since it’s all out and sad because, damn I can’t believe I’ve waited so long to read such an AMAZING story!

I haven’t been kept up late into the night for a while! I stayed up till midnight reading one night and then woke up at 4 am just to keep reading! It was just that good.

Harkness constructed a unique world full of colorful characters and an intriguing plot. I know that the whole vampire, witch, daemon thing has been done, done, and over done throughout the years….however it’s the strong characters and premise around the book that make this series for me.

Diana was everything a strong, intelligent woman should be. I thought it was perfect to make her a more mature woman in her 30’s. So much of today’s lit features a young 20 something girl and I think making Diana older really speaks to a different audience. For me, I am in my 30’s and have my masters in history so making Diana this highly educated mature woman really helped me to identify with her and appreciate her as a heroine. Brilliant.

As for Matthew….swoon. At times his possessiveness was annoying but at the same time, I didn’t mind it because it was so evident that he cared deeply for Diana. He was intelligent, charming, and romantic. Not to mention he is a strong, decisive leader. He doesn’t “manage” Diana but he steers her in the right direction when she needs it.

He provides this story with direction and stability….while Diana isn’t a weak character by any means, she does have a lot of things thrust upon her in this novel. She is still coming to terms with the whole witch business, trying to understand the vampires, falling in love, tracking down a book that she recalled once but never again…..the other creatures breathing down her neck…..she has a lot going on and even the strongest heroine needs support and Matthew provides that. He is strong when he is needed but is also willing to let Diana be her own strong character. He doesn’t over power her and together they make a wonderful romantic couple.

There were things about the book which reminded me of Twilight like some of the vampire ‘lore’, the whole vampire hunting thing, and the forbidden romance but overall it was it’s own unique story.

I loved the alchemy piece and how it fit into the novel. That added a sense of reality and when paired with the whole genetic thing I couldn’t help but wonder where the line between reality and fiction were which to me is the sign of a well written world/plot.

This book was fantastic and I can’t say enough good things about it! I highly recommend it! I finished it in 3 days of aggressive reading (it’s almost 600 pages) but it was 3 days well spent! I had to hold back from immediately starting the next book because I have other books on my review calendar but it’s going to be hard to not find out what happened next…..especially considering the ending was a major cliff hanger!

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) by Deborah Harkness

  • ebook, 594 pages
    Published February 8th 2011 by Penguin Books
    ISBN 1101475692 (ISBN13: 9781101475690)
  • Review copy provided by: Publisher in exchange for an honest review

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 5 out of 5

Genre: Witch lit, pararomance, romance, vampire lit

Memorable lines/quotes: 

Friends tell each other the truth, even when it’s difficult.

Just because something seems impossible doesn’t make it untrue.


4 thoughts on “Review: A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) by Deborah Harkness

  1. This is one of my favorite series. It’s so well-written. I loved the Twilight series, but this is definitely at a higher level for adults with a more complex story. I do recommend that you try to read the books as close together as possible, particularly between the second and the third. There were a lot of characters introduced in the second novel, so I was a little lost when I first started the third book because it had been quite a while since reading the second. But it was well worth the initial confusion because the whole series is great and highly recommended.

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