A Discovery of Witches. Deborah Harkness
A Discovery of Witches. Deborah Harkness
Review from Jeannie Zelos Book reviews.
I bought this book back in March 2011, totally by mistake… I very rarely buy hardbacks, and certainly not from an author new to me, but I am SO GLAD I made this error as it’s still one of my top reads of all time. Then came the kindle – ironically in April 11, Him Indoors kept pushing me to get one, fed up of piles of dusty books….I love it. ( am on kindle no three now..) I’ve long wanted to replace my favourite reads with kindle editions, as I find print books really hard to read now due to eye problems. So when I saw this for review I had to request it 🙂 I did a quick review after I’d bought it in mar 11, but that was before my blog/reviewer hobby got started…
So, re reading it brought me back into that fabulous world of shadowy creatures, puzzles to be solved, fabulous characters and houses that have a mind of their own….
Diana is a powerful witch but refuses to train in or use her magic, except for a few occasions, repairing washing machine for example and preventing damage to neighbours flat…then she’s researching in the Bodleian one day and can’t quite reach the book she needs. Its getting late, no one is around so she calls for it with magic. Then gets a massive shock when she sees/feels it’s spelled, and she’s been able to open it. She takes a brief look before returning it, worried about the consequences. Her opening it hasn’t gone unnoticed though, its a book thought to be lost for hundreds of years, and witches, vampires and daemons all want to get to it, so they start trailing Diana round thinking she’ll recall it. Then danger begins from those impatient to stop another group getting their hands on it. Vampire Matthew is curious, he’s known about the book, but like others unsure if it was real or not. When he sees Diana recall it he’s curious, watches her closely the next few days, and gradually finds himself drawn to her, despite the rules forbidding creatures mixing with each other, and witches and vampires having a long held hatred and mistrust. He protects Diana several times, and gradually she starts to trust him and they fall in love. They decide the only way to stop the danger is to find the book, but when she tries to request it again its gone….lost again supposedly.
Diana is great, I understood her stance on magic, but as she grows more powerful with her magic taking over and causing problems, its clear she needs help. Matthew is very old, hundreds of years, so he’s seen and done much, and yet he’s a very quiet, unassuming vampire on the surface, though his reputation is fearsome. I loved him right from the start, somehow he’s so gentlemanly outwardly, but the the vampire traits show through, and we see he’s so much more than he seems. He’s not afraid for himself, but when it comes to his family – and now to Diana – he’s incredibly protective, and will take any measures necessary to protect them, even killing should it be needed, and he won’t have second thoughts about it. Its that blend of kindness, protectiveness and ruthlessness that makes him so fascinating to me. He’s also been researching into gene research among other things, as all the Creatures populations are declining, with births being more and more scarce. Its rumoured the missing book holds information on this, and also how to kill vampires, so the vampires are of course very keen not to let others get it.
As always there are good and bad in all segments of creature, and there are some creel and fearsome witches and vampires out to capture Diana, and through her the book. Her parents were killed many years before, and she discovers that their death was not as innocent as she thought, and that humans were not behind it as she’d believed. The search for the book takes them from UK to France and back, and then to Diana’s home; along the journey meeting Matthews family, and Diana’s aunts who brought her up. There are many other interesting people that join them along the way, and some incredible dangerous ones too, and as Matthew feels more and more protective of Diana, unusual for a vampire and witch, they discover they have feelings for each other and their love story begins. Though the book is mainly their story, and the search for the missing tome, its a fabulous read, introducing some incredible characters, magical – in both ways – story-lines, and of course The House. That’s where Diana was brought up and her aunts still live, and its an amazing building having a life of its own, adding on rooms and furniture when it thinks visitors coming, and hiding and revealing all manner of things.
Its not a quick read, took me two-three days – and I read quickly – as its so intense and packed with detail. Its 608 pages on kindle for £3.99, and I feel its a real bargain and it’s one I will ( and have) re read over and over. I’m going to re-read the second book which I have in hardback ( but may buy kindle version instead, so much easier for me to read on kindle) prior to release of the final part of the trilogy this summer. I’m so looking forward to how the story ends 🙂 It amazes me just how much detail and information Deborah has managed to get into this book, without it becoming at any time dull, boring, an info dump, as so often happens. My brain can only cope with so much before shouting “enough now” and that didn’t happen once in this novel( or in book two). She’s a really talented author to be able to do this, and still create such a readable, riveting and complex story IMO.
ARC provided via Netgalley
Stars: Five, one that is in my top all time reads.