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A Discovery of Witches
By Andrada Dervesteanu 6 min read
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BOOK TITLE: A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1)
AUTHOR: Deborah Harkness

My Goodreads adding-books-without-reading-their-description rampage will someday turn against me. I have already felt the consequences of my irresponsible behavior throughout this next book, “A Discovery of Witches”. I have pretty much outgrown my vampires-and-witches-books phase, but I honestly couldn’t resist this one after reading (just) its title. After buying it from the local bookstore and reading about 50 pages I started studying the back cover and the praises, one of them mentioned a resemblance to “Twilight” which is one of my least favourite books; immediately after discovering this my attitude towards the book (which wasn’t great in the beginning, by the way) changed even more and at some point I actually disliked reading it. One thing I have learned from all this, always read the description before buying books (I know, I’m reckless. And obviously – be warned, spoilers ahead!)

“As fast as I can tell there are only two emotions that keep the world spinning year after year… One is fear. The other is desire.”

And now, to the book itself. Our main character, Diana Bishop, is a witch living in a world where human, witches, vampires and daemons coexist. Her parents passed away when she was little, both being powerful witches. After their violent death Diana refuses to use her powers or even learn how to control them, she tries to live like a human and chooses an academic career relating alchemy. Thus begins her journey and we find her in an Oxford library, rummaging through books (oh, I like that!). She accidentally finds an old manuscript, a bewitched one, she opens it with the idea of studying it only for its alchemy purpose and blocks out the magical part. The manuscript turns out to be an important one for all three nonhuman races: witches, vampires and daemons.


After this discovery she soon meets a charming vampire, Matthew Clairmont, with whom will later start a romance. Others pay her visits after opening the manuscript, witches who threaten her, daemons who seek her help and also other vampires who are not as friendly as Matthew. The circumstances force Diana and Matthew to bond and help each other, this leading to their falling in love. The only issue in their way is the Congregation (which pretty much makes the rules for the supernatural world, you shall see) which long ago forbade relationships between a witch and a vampire (or any two different creatures). After some attacks Matthew decides to take Diana to some sort of safe haven from where they can plan what to do next. From now on they both acknowledge their relationship and start building it seriously, that helping them solve the mystery of the manuscript. The book unfolds through a series of adventures and keeps you quite alert until the unexpected end.

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

The beginning is a slow one and I often found myself bored during the first 50-100 pages, but I tried to get over this state of mind, because I was actually curious what the manuscript Diana found is actually about; I truly hoped that by the end of the book all will be clear regarding the manuscript, but I’m telling you, it ain’t gonna happen. I believe that was one of the shortcomings of this book… the plot advances too slow, we were given scarce details (you mostly read about Diana doing yoga or how Diana realizes she needs to control her powers or about her relationship with Matthew) about the important part of the plot and too much detail about the main character. The plot becomes entertaining at some point and it will keep you turning the pages but there will always be some unnecessary scene that will frustrate you a little. Moreover, some parts of it are really predictable (a kidnapping scene after they slept together naked – without doing anything naughty – and Diana wandered the gardens alone).

Diana isn’t necessarily a bad character, actually she is quite alright, but all throughout the book I imagined her as an average person (even if she is a Oxford academic and she also turns out to be a pretty bad-ass witch); I just felt that she missed something in order to be truly a memorable character.


Now the spotlight on Matthew. He is quite the typical vampire, charming, brilliant, everybody skips a beat when he enters the room – too much of a cliché for me. Also, at some point, reading how he behaved towards Diana I could actually find some resemblance with Edward the Twilight boy which would be shortcoming number 2 for me. His relationship with Diana resumes itself to kissing and some naked-touching; I understand that this probably illustrate how much he cares about her, how he is afraid to hurt her and how he is waiting for the right moment, but due to the fact that they are both grown-ups and they are presumably in love I found the whole thing plain awkward. But a good thing about Matthew, he is a scientist, and asks questions which supernatural creatures don’t usually do, about evolution and what is actually the scientific difference between them and humans – I found that gripping.

In the end I can say I would recommend the book to those into the vampire&witches books and I also advise you to be patient because at some point you will be given some interesting piece of information beside the relationship between the main characters and I think that it is worth finding out what the story of the manuscript is. Also, even if boring in some places, I appreciated the way the book was written and I believe that the author is quite talented and has potential for great things, that’s why I decided to give this book 3 stars and give a go to the other two from the series.


Overall rating: 3 stars
Goodreads link: A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches Deborah Harkness Fantasy Fiction Romance Witches

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