Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkenss (Audiobook)(Rating 5 Wine Glasses)

Posted February 27, 2011 by Felicia S in Uncategorized / 0 Comments


From Goodreads: 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.

Bought on Audible

What I Loved: I am going to warn you that this may be a rambling review.  I adored this book!  I thought it was well written, thought out, and presented.  I think the author (or whoever wrote the blurb) did themselves a HUGE disservice comparing it to Twilight because it is nothing like that angsty series.  This is not full of love triangles, weak leading ladies, or teenagers.  This book is full of action, adventure, history, love (both of the main characters and their family/friends), intrigue, and mystery.  The leading lady Diana is a wonderful example of someone who has spent most of her life hiding from who she is and developing a life outside of it.  She is Harvard educated, a brilliant scholar, and leading a relatively normal life till her magic makes her understand that she can’t just turn her back on being witch.  This unfolds slowly through most the book and what I liked was watching the stages.  Yes, they unfolded over a short amount of time (3 weeks or so) but each one was deliberate.  Much like her falling in love with Matthew, a fellow scholar but also a Vampire.  In the world in which Ms. Harkness created, the 3 non-human species are not supposed to mix.  This book, which is the first in the trilogy, introduces you to this world, gives you a starting glimpse into the troubles to come, and does an excellent job of drawing you in and keeping you interested.

What I Liked:  Attention to detail both large and small.  The landscape, people, and world were brilliantly described and introduced.

Complaints:  The “I Love You” does get bit repetitive between Matthew and Diana but that is just a personal preference that I know they are going to say before parting.  I don’t actually have to read it.

Audio Specific Review:  EXCELLENT Narration by Jennifer Ikeda.  She managed to capture the essence of every character (and there quite a few) very well.  My favorite was Izabo, her presentation of that character was spot on and fun!

Why I Gave it a 5  (and kind of why you would not necessarily): I really enjoy long, sweeping tales when they are done right with lots of detail, strong story, and likable characters.  I grew up reading books like The North and The South, The Westward Ho Series,  and later they were joined by The Stand and Outlander.  These type of books require time, commitment, and an understanding the action will not always be fast and furious.  This book was excellent in the pacing, storytelling, and character building.  I was never bored and always wanted to know what happened next.  I was sad when the book ended and I didn’t have the 2nd one there ready to go.

Who I would recommend it too:  This is tough!  This isn’t a PNR (though it does have a love story) and it isn’t a Thriller/Mystery (though it does have both elements in it).  This is however a very well written book that I think fans of books like The Outlander series may enjoy.  This isn’t going to be for everyone (aka the reason I have seen reviews from 2 to 5) but those that love it are going to be passionate about it!

Author Website:


Felicia S
Follow Me

What are your thoughts?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.