A Discovery of Witches
Witches and vampires aren't supposed to mix. Tell that to Diana Bishop.
Diana has spent her life since her parents died denying her witch's powers. Now she is a respected historian who teaches at Yale University. She has taken a year off to work at Oxford to study her specialty. She concentrates on the time near the end of alchemists as the world begins to give up magic and move to science. She calls a rare book up from the library's stacks. What she doesn't know is that the Ashmole 782 has been missing for hundreds of years. She is the first person - witch, vampire, daemon, or human - who has been able to actually get the book. When Diana puts her hand on it, she feels some magic letting go. She is able to open it and try to read it. But the magic in the book bothers her. She doesn't want to work with her suppressed powers. When she is finished looking through it in a couple hours, she returns it to the rare book stacks.
When Diana is working the next day, she meets Matthew Clairmont, a disturbing vampire. He is a medical professor at Oxford doing research. Now he has taken a great interest in her. The next day he is back at the library - sitting across from her work station. Even more disturbing than Matthew, Diana realizes the library area where she is working is filled with more witches, daemons, and vampires than she ever sees at any one time. Her discovery of the Ashmole 782 interests them all. Each race is certain the magic in that book will explain some of their secrets or hold powerful spells. She is the only witch to have handled it in more time than anyone knows. Now every one of them is waiting for her to get the text back.
Matthew appoints himself her protector. He wants that manuscript as much as anyone. He also finds that she's an intriguing witch. He has lived close to 2,000 years but no one was ever like Diana Bishop. Then when the creatures start getting too close, break into her rooms, and try to hurt her, he has to get her away from Oxford. After that, there is no turning back for either of them. Other witches warn her; other vampires warn him. Yet they have to work together.
What a wonderful book! Deborah Harkness has published the first of a trilogy. The ending point is natural, and many things are tied up so the reader isn't left completely hanging. Still, there is a long way to go before Diana and Matthew's story is finished. Think of an adult Twilight with more depth and not nearly as much teen age angst. The next book is due out in 2012.
I was immediately pulled in - I could feel the tug of A Discovery of Witches within the first chapter or two. Since Diana is a historian, the reader gets soaked in history. There were times I skimmed that, getting back to Diana and Matthew's story. Diana's reluctance to accept her own powers brings her character to life as she struggles with her natural magic striving to get out. Matthew is slower to come to life because Diana tells most of A Discovery of Witches in first person, and he is still a menacing stranger to her.
A Discovery of Witches is not a quick read although it is easy. It doesn't take long for the reader to forget the number of pages and keep right on going. When I finished, I wanted more of Harkness' tale. A Discovery of Witches is a magical book.
Notice: Non-graphic violence, Suggestive dialogue or situations
These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
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