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.
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.
Okay, well, that blurb isn’t the best and while it gives the readers somewhat of an idea of what to expect, the book is actually much, much better than it suggests.
A Discovery of Witches is the first book in the All Souls Trilogy, and Deborah Harkness's debut novel. It’s a unique story that subtly brings together and addresses many of today’s cultural and societal issues, as they pertain to the All Souls Trilogy world, without beating the reader about the head with messages of political correctness. In fact, the story is so fun, so well written and meaningful that by the time I was through I was left wishing I had the next book right here in my hot little hands!
I’m going to give you a heads up here… this story is slow to start, but it’s only due to the very necessary amount of world building and backstory that we readers need in order to understand the complex society these beings exist in. My point is, Do. Not. Give. Up! At about the twenty some percent mark it really picks up and once it does, it doesn’t let go. The romance is slow to build, too, but it's there and it’s sweet. The sexuality is mild with most scenes taking place behind closed doors, but I loved the sexual tension and passion between Diana and Matthew.
In my opinion, the true excitement of this story lies in the quest to unravel the mystery of vampire, witch and daemon origins and, depending on who existed first, deciding which species is most entitled to the fullness and truth of that knowledge.
The bottom line: Loved it. What an incredible, exciting, thought provoking, fun debut novel! Deborah Harkness is well on her way to making quite a name for herself in the PNR/UF genres and I am so looking forward to watching it happen, each story and every step of the way!
Many thanks to my Goodreads friend, Nomad, for suggesting this book as a buddy read. I'm afraid I would have put it off indefinitely had it not been for her suggestion. Also, for those who took part in the DHASG buddy read - Pat, Tammy, Heather, Teresa, Megan and Cindi - I enjoyed discussing this book and sharing thoughts with you all!