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miercuri, 1 mai 2013

Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.
Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.
Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal

My edition: Paperback, 690 pages, Published September 1st 2011 by Headline


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

Have you ever read books that, after you finish them, make you think the characters and everything are out there, somewhere in this world? And when you turn that last page and close the book, you just stare into nothingness and wonder what they are doing now... yearn to meet them and shake their hands and just hug them and tell them you love them and admire them. I rarely get this kind of intense feeling from a book and I was surprised when "A Discovery of Witches" brought out this emotions for me.

The first thing that caught my attention was the incredibly detailed description of everything. I could practically smell and taste the tea Diana drinked, perfectly imagine the room she was in to the tiniest details like what kind of wood her desk was made of. Some may argue that this attention to the details distracts your attention from the actual plot. Let me tell you this: it wasn't the case for me. I think we are so used to finding the paranormal theme in YA books lately, that when we find a much more complex book (after all, this one is aimed at an adult public), some of the readers are overwhelmed.

Reading a book about a historian witch actually written by a historian (and a great one, might I add) was amazing, spectacular, incredible, breath-taking (and these adjectives aren't even nearly enough to describe my experience). Deborah, if any miracle brings you somehow to my review, let me tell you: you are a genius! I practically wanted to get my hands myself on the manuscripts Diana was researching, feel their texture, read them even though I know close to nothing in Latin, discover their secrets, enjoy the smell of old books. My book edition had an interview with Deborah about the novel, and, as I had anticipated, the bewitched alchemical manuscript Diana finds (Ashmole 782) is real, but lost, with nobody knowing what it contains. I never imagined myself to become so passionate about history. My mind is practically screaming: what is IN that book? I want to know! Both our world's manuscript, and Deborah's invented world!

Have I ever read a 700-paged book? No. Am I scared of big books? Yes. It took me three weeks to finish this one (damn you, final year of highschool!) And I devoured it, even though I didn't have time to read it at the pace I would've wanted to. Would I read this again? Absolutely! And I'm not one of those who re-read books. There's too much waiting on my to-be-read pile. But this trilogy? I think I'll break my rule and re-read it when it's all finished. I want to fully enjoy the incredible puzzle. So far, there were a lot of clues scattered on the many pages and I'm sure I will forget some of them on the way, so I want to re-read knowing what to be looking after.

In "A Discovery of Witches", there are four creatures inhabiting the world: the plain humans, witches, vampires and demons. As you might have guessed, humans don't know about the existence of the other three species. Oh, and let me add: witches, vampires and demons hate each other and it is forbidden for them to mix with one another. Wich brings us to... yeah, witch Diana and vampire Matthey and their incredible chemistry, yet taboo love. Before you dismiss this book as yet another forbidden love one, read the rest of what I have to say... or at least type. It is true that the other creatures will try to break them up... but that is only the surface of what we think it is happening. The book is actually not only about the freedom of loving whomever you want, but about the future of all the species, the next step in the evolutionary staircase if you want. Unexpected alliances will be formed, breathtaking secrets revealed and surprinsing turns of events will occur.

I cannot remember how many times I closed the book in shock, said "This can't be what I think it is!", opened it again, read the last few phrases, reclosed it, "This changes everything!" and so on. And this is a debut novel? Are you kidding me? Who writes like that? What are you, Deborah? Are you sure you're not a daemon - you're too much of a genius! I am torn between reading the next one and desperately waiting for the series finale (which is announced for 2013) or saving it up so I can enjoy the last two at a time? Neah... I don't think I can patiently stare at "Shadow of Night" and not read it.

Did you have the patience to follow my first crazy-like review? You are a sweetie! It means I probably made you want to read the book too! So be a good girl/boy and go the the library, book shop or whatever and do not come back without a copy. You can thank me later. :)

Un comentariu:

  1. It's is a wonderful review. I completely agree that an overall theme of the book is one of acceptance and tolerance. I also agree that readers should not dismiss as just another romance or vampire book! It is so much more than that. You ask what is Deborah Harkness? She's a history professor, of course and a consummate teacher. She expects her readers to delve below the surface and research the names of Bishop and Proctor,investigate the mythology of the goddess Diana. Please go on and read Shadow of Night!

    When you are tired of the printed page (!?), you might check out the crusade to have Richard Armitage cast as Matthew Clairmont in the movie! The books have been optioned by Warner Brothers, a script written, and producers named. You can check out the crusade at or