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BOOK REVIEW - A Discovery of Witches, Deborah Harkness

Updated: Nov 15, 2019

What the back says...

A world of witches, daemons and vampires.

A manuscript which holds the secrets of their past and the key to their future.

Diana and Matthew - the forbidden love at the heart of it.

I came across this book, as I do a lot of the books I read, when I was recommended the television series by a friend. If I see the words 'based on the book by...' regarding any TV show or movie you can almost guarantee I will buy it!

I also have a weakness for a vampire story and have read that other famous vampire love story series, you know the one I'm on about, so I had high hopes for this - and I wasn't disappointed. The love story itself was a bit of a slow burner, I spent a lot of pages willing something to happen. But, the fact that it wasn't an instant thing made the story so much better. The character building was incredible and the number characters, each with their own talents and quirks were really well written.

For me, the highlight of this book was the academic research and knowledge that went into putting this story together. As the author writes in her acknowledgements, this is a book about books and I can only imagine the time, research and reading that went into putting all of this information into a story. Also, the detail used to describe the Bodleian Library, it was so easy to imagine and create a picture in my head that it could only have been written by someone who had spent a lot of time reading and researching there.

As the story went on it was almost like I was reading two books. With the first half of the book based in Oxford it was almost as if the vampires, witches and daemons were restricted in what they could do, that their powers and strengths were hidden, not only to the human world but the reader of the book. But, as soon as we made it to the Bishop house in New York it was as if all the magic came out! Diana Bishop was no longer an academic but the powerful witch that we had been waiting for.

I'm pleased to say that I liked both of the two main characters. Sometimes you get one that's just a bit annoying but Matthew and Diana are both strong, likeable, well written characters. As are the supporting characters, Matthew's family of vampires, each with their own historical story, I can only imagine the planning and research that went into them. And the witches, for them to not be portrayed as almost the cartoon villain was a refreshing change - I'm not ashamed to admit that it made me want to be one! Now, maybe it's just my cold heart, but sometimes I do have an issue with all-consuming love affairs. I'm not sure if it's just a vampire thing - considering I have never met one then I can't know for certain - but I like a good, strong, kick-arse female character and sometimes I feel like they lose a bit of themselves when they become totally consumed with their lover. I find myself silently screaming 'don't put up with it, tell him to sod off'! But, like I said, this could just be my cold heart... :)

A very sturdy 688 pages, I finished this in just over 5 days and moved straight onto the next book in this series. It is definitely one of those books that becomes difficult to put down. This is a must read for those that love a fantasy love story. I highly recommend this first book in the All Souls trilogy and look forward to the rest of the series.

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