Tuesday, February 28, 2012
I feel like I'm the last book blogger on the planet to read A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES by Deborah Harkness. It's not that this book wasn't on my radar -- I actually did two separate giveaways for it. It's just that I tend to shy away from vampire books. And A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES has been compared more than a few times to the Twilight series (which I also never got around to reading.) Despite the fantastic reviews as well as an assurance from one of my friends that I would like this book, I still kept procrastinating.
What finally made me decide to pick up this book is that it has to do with witches. And while I'm not a big vampire fan, I am very intrigued by witches and witchcraft. So I guess I figured I could tolerate some vampire stuff if there were witches involved. What really surprised me about A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES is just how much I enjoyed this book. I seriously liked it and I'm so glad that there is a sequel coming out -- actually this one is the first of a trilogy so I get two more books!
I probably don't need to summarize A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES too much because most everyone has already read it, but here's a very brief one nonetheless. Diana, the narrator is a scholar of 17th century chemistry as well as a descendent of witches. While conducting research at Oxford, she discovers a magical manuscript -- one that can unlock the secrets of her world. Despite trying to hide her magical powers for her entire life, Diana is thrown full force into the world of witches, daemons, and vampires. She even ends up falling in love with a very special (and sexy) vampire named Matthew. Throughout the course of this novel, Diana begins to learn about her past as well as her magical powers.
Since I don't read a lot of books in this genre, I don't really feel that I can be a valid critic of the novel. All I can really say is that everything about this novel just seemed to work for me. I actually looked forward to picking up the book after I set it down, and I definitely wasn't expecting that to be the case. I appreciated the characters, the suspense, and even the romance; and I loved how the story unfolded. The book just seemed to get better and better as the mysteries were revealed.
I think one of the best things that I can say about A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES is the quality of Ms. Harness' writing. I thought it was very good! Ms. Harkness brought a magical world to life with her vivid descriptions (and don't even get me started on all the talk of food and wine.) In fact, I loved the world and the characters that she created. Her creativity showing how the various supernatural creatures interacted was also a treat -- I loved the dynamics between the members of the Congregation. Finally, Ms. Harkness managed to weave a complex tale of suspense and intrigue that kept me on the edge of my seat and made not want to put down the book.
I was a bit surprised to find that there is a reading guide for A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES, although I really shouldn't be. While at first, I thought the book might just be a fluffy supernatural story, the book definitely became more complex as the secrets came to light. In addition, the characters were all extremely interesting, especially Diana and Matthew. Some of the themes you might want to explore include supernatural powers, love, family, forbidden love, and obligation/duty. I do have to warn you that many of the discussion questions deal with imagining yourself in a situation that existed in the book. They aren't all traditional questions about the book and its characters.
If you are a fan of vampires and/or witches (or even if you aren't like me), then I highly recommend A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES. But beware... the ending of this book is left very open-ended so if you decide to read it, you'll be forced into reading the next one too!
Thanks to the publisher for sending a review copy of this novel.