“A Discovery of Witches” is Deborah Harkness’s debut novel and tells the story of Diana Bishop, a young scholar and a descendent of witches, who discovers a long-lost and enchanted alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, deep in Oxford’s Bodleian Library. The manuscript’s reappearance summons a fantastical underworld full of witches, vampires and daemons, which she navigates with the help of vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont.
Unfortunately, most of the plot was pretty boring and the story just dragged on quite often. Especially the middle part of the book was super slow and many things were described in way too much detail. But at the end of the novel it was hinted that they’d have to go on a quest soon. That quest is something I would’ve already liked to see in this book because I just felt like most of “A Discovery of Witches” was one big filler to get to the action that wouldn’t happen until the sequel. Something I really liked about this story though were the details about things like alchemy, biology, the history of witches and so on and I felt like you could really see that the author knew what she was talking about. I haven’t really had any touching points with those topics in real life since leaving high school, so I learned quite a lot of things while reading this novel.
The two main characters are Diana and Matthew. Diana is a witch and Matthew a vampire and I had my problems with both of them at the beginning of the book. During most of the first two thirds of the novel Diana was mostly being kind of dumb, annoying and sometimes even pretty naïve but she then started changing a little towards the end of the book and I started liking her a bit more. The same goes for Matthew though it wasn’t his characteristics that made me dislike him, but the fact that I couldn’t stop thinking about Edward Cullen whenever he made an appearance during the first half of the novel. He was just giving off such strong twilight vibes and I was so scared that wouldn’t change though thankfully it did and now I actually even like him a bit better than Diana. The romance between the two though was once again your typical case of insta-love and while I’ve seen worse cases, that still really disappointed me because I’d hoped to see an interesting love story between the two. But I have to say that I really liked most of the side characters just like Marcus, Sarah or Em and of course Tabitha (Sarah’s cat) whose behavior made me laugh quite a lot.
Deborah Harkness’s writing style is pretty descriptive and even though it made the story drag on quite a bit, I also really liked getting so much information sometimes. Overall, I would say this book was well written though I think she’s definitely not one of those authors that has a unique writing style you would recognize immediately.
All in all, I was a bit disappointed by this novel and it just didn’t meet my expectations. Due to the fact that it dragged on so much, it was a really slow read and I sometimes had to push myself to even continue reading the book. I have to say though that the last 20% of the novel definitely made up a bit for the rest of it and that things got a little more interesting then. There were also certain scenes in the rest of the novel that I really enjoyed and I think the side characters made the novel a lot better than it would’ve been without some of them. So overall, this is a solid 3 stars for me.
WILL I CONTINUE THE SERIES?
Even though this series won’t be on top of the list of series I still need to complete, I think I’ll definitely still give the second book a try. Like I said, the end of this book made it look like the next book would be a lot more interesting than this one and there’s also the TV show that is coming out later this year and I really don’t like watching an adaptation without having read the books first.
Have you already read “A Discovery of Witches” & what did you think about it? 🙂