Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

I don’t want to sound like I drool over every book I read—it’s just that I’ll only read what comes recommended to me. And fortunately, I’ve spent time with some pretty captivating stuff lately!

Last year, Parade magazine spotlighted Deborah Harkness’s A Discovery of Witches. I jotted down the title and finally found it in the library a few weeks ago. In no time I fell under its spell. Witches, vampires, demons . . . holy smokes, what’s not to like?

Studious Diana Bishop is the last in line of the infamous Bishop witches (think Salem witch trials). The thing is, she utterly resists practicing magic. Her witch and wizard parents were killed when she was seven years old, and she grows up trying to distance herself from that world and succeed in her career without the aid of magic. A history scholar, Diana is spending a year at Oxford researching alchemical texts for her doctorate when she encounters an ancient, mystical manuscript. It is this mysterious manuscript that jeopardizes Diana’s life by making her a target against various life-threatening creatures, including a handsome vampire named Matthew.

(Matthew is DREAMY. Think Edward but older, more powerful, and better built. And not so sparkly.) Diana soon finds herself charmed by Matthew; but alas, witch + vampire romances are expressly forbidden in their world.

I love the interchanges between Diana and Matthew—he is soo serious and old-fashioned (wait and see how old he is!) and she is a snappy, modern, independent woman/witch. The settings are spectacular—the quaint rooms of Oxford, Matthew’s massive, ancient stone chateau in France, etc. Another cool part of the story is the distinction in personalities of the magical creatures. In the book, the creatures walk among humans, but their characteristics are their calling cards: The demons are troubled geniuses (“rock stars and serial killers”); the vampires are chiseled, pale, wealthy, and secretive (huh! Kinda like those Cullenses!); the witches are intrusive and clannish and have unruly hair. Harkness’s storytelling is romantic, suspenseful, and fun. Matthew has crossed paths with many a historical figure in his X years on Earth, so the historical side notes are interesting.

If you enjoy a good ole vampire-fantasy-romantic-suspense-historical fiction tale, this book will captivate you, too! I saw online that the sequel comes out July 2013 (it'll be a trilogy)!

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