Dec 14, 2015

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness - All Souls' book one

Book 1 fascinated me!
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Paperback, 579 pages
Published December 27th 2011 by Penguin Books (first published February 8th 2011)
ISBN 0143119680 (ISBN13: 9780143119685)
Burton Book Review Rating: 
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.

I had gotten the All Souls boxed set over the summer and hoped to be able to find the time to read them asap, but I just managed to finish book one, A Discovery of Witches, recently. At almost 600 pages I would have thought it would take me a month to read given the busy time of the year, but the story had me hooked after page 15 or so and I could not wait to get a chance to sneak in a few pages and visit my fave paranormal characters.

I am not one who habitually sets out to read about witches, vampires or creatures, or any other worldly "fantasy" creatures yet there was something so creative and intriguing about the particular ingenious facets about these characters. Diana is a very likable person who was born a witch but doesn't really trust herself as a witch, and a vampire Matthew finds her and falls in love with her in spite of all the no-no's about no mixing of the creatures. And the demons -- spelled daemons -- are a very intellectual group wearing old-fashioned vests who could be diabolical were a nice touch.

The book has been out for a few years, so there's not much more to say on it review wise. It's a #1 Best Seller on Amazon in the Vampire Thriller Kindle category, which seems pretty cool. There is mystery and suspense,  sweet budding romance, violent vampire cravings, and fire tingling fingers on Diana the witch. So many things that I typically would be all like 'dude, that's so unintelligent and made-up fairy tale stuff for kids'. Whatever, I loved it and I can't wait to get to book two, especially as there is going to be some time travel going on to Elizabethan England. See, there's my historical fiction nerd getting its fix.

 I am kind of annoyed that I read a synopsis for book three because there was a big spoiler there (now that I care about the characters, I'm totally invested in the story). So beware there if you have not read these yet.

For readers who like a bit of adventure, I completely recommend the first book, A Discovery of Witches, the debut novel (whaaat???!!) by Deborah Harkness, she who is the spinner of tales full of awesome imagination and a wonderful sly wit during really tense moments.. and I just heard that she is set to release in 2017 another All Souls' piece, The Serpent of Mirrors, so the current release of three books won't be a trilogy for long.

Penguin has released a free, e-book only, richly illustrated real-time reading guide that brings to life the world created by Deborah Harkness in A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night, retracing the events of these two bestselling novels with illuminating behind-the-scenes details and real-life events that figure into the books. Get the scoop here.