Review Time: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

I thought it was appropriate to read this again as I prepare to binge-watch the TV series for the third time (if you haven’t watched it, you should go watch it now). A Discovery of Witches follows the tale of Diana Bishop, an alchemy professor at Oxford University. Diana is a witch who descends from two very powerful bloodlines, but she shunned her heritage after her parents were brutally slain when she was 7. She discovers a long-lost manuscript, Ashmole 782, at the Bodleian Library and all sorts of creatures gather to her because of it – vampires, daemons and witches. Matthew de Clermont is one of the creatures who appears, a vampire, and they fall in love.

“It begins with absence and desire.
It begins with blood and fear.
It begins with a discovery of witches.”

Deborah Harkness, A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches is the first book in a trilogy and is followed by Shadow of the Night and Book of Life. It’s really such an amazing trilogy. I read all three books in a very short stint of time because I got absolutely hooked on it.

The strong connection between Matthew and Diana is intriguing and their love for each other overshadows all fears of the congregation (a group made up for 3 daemons, 3 vampires and 3 witches in order to ‘keep the peace’ and uphold the laws that have governed their species for centuries) and their own respective species.

A vampire and a witch cannot mate, and they break the most sacred covenant by falling in love – this puts them both in immense danger. The characters are so believable that it really drags you into the story.

Diana and Matthew both have their own personal flaws and this makes their lives realistic and so easy to be sucked into. You feel happy when they’re happy, angry when they’re angry and sad when they’re sad. A Discovery of Witches is a novel that really pulls at your heartstrings and drags you into the story. And I, personally, was jumping for joy when they confessed (out loud) their feelings for each other.

“It is a blessing as well as a burden to love so much that you can hurt so badly when love is gone.”

Deborah Harkness, A Discovery of Witches

There are a few different story-lines intertwined around Matthew and Diana, and my personal favourite is that of Sophie and Nathaniel. Sophie and Nathaniel are daemons who fell and love and married, and in the first novel they are expecting their first child. Sophie is quite unique, as she is a daemon who came from a family of witches. Her entire family are witches, except for her.

Nathaniel and Sophie hide this fact from everyone, as Nathaniel’s mother is a part of the congregation and they knew they’d never be allowed to marry if the congregation knew; inter-species relationships are strictly forbidden, like Diana and Matthew’s. Sophie is unique and previously thought to be an impossibility – how could a daemon be born to witches? Not only this, but her unborn child is a witch, and that puts her in more danger from the congregation. Not only was a daemon born from witch parents, but now a witch will be born from two daemons.

Sophie is an artist and is definitely a very unique girl. She has been having premonitions and dreams of Diana and had an object she had to deliver to her. She’s quite determined in her task and sees her task through. She and Nathaniel made their way to Diana’s house, which they reach close to the end of the novel.

A Discovery of Witches is such an enthralling novel, and the two following novels are also amazing. It’s such a worthwhile read and I loved every moment I spent reading the stories of Diana and Matthew, as well as all the supporting characters (especially Sophie and Nathaniel).

I would recommend this novel to anyone interested in fantasy and YA books. I’d also recommend it to slightly older and slightly younger audiences, as it is such a dynamic book. It’s really enjoyable to read and you get completely sucked into the story.

I’d also recommend that you go and watch the TV series. It has to be one of the best adaptions from book to TV/film that I’ve seen. The casting was perfect and they kept to the storyline amazingly. It’s dynamic and addictive and whenever I watch it, I end up binging all the episodes because I just can’t stop!

If you’re not a reader, then watching the TV show is almost as good since it so accurately depicts the world these characters live in and how they feel. It’s magical and just so worthwhile to get hooked on.

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