Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Diana Bishop is a witch, but when she was a child her parents were killed and Diana associated it with being a witch so she has tried her best to cut witch craft and magic out of her life. Unfortunately Diana is a powerful witch so magic is not willing to leave her alone. As a historian working on a paper in Oxford, she one day calls up a Ashmole 782, an alchemical text hidden with spells for centuries that may hold the key to any number of things depending on what witch, vampire or daemon you talk to. It's drawing her all kinds of attention from the witches, daemons and vampires she has been trying to avoid; including one Matthew Clairmont, a powerful vampire that she finds herself developing a relationship with.

I really loved this book so much. It was recommended by a friend and even though it took me almost a week to read, I was thrilled with the outcome. The book is sooo rich in detail. Historical details and figures have been intricately woven into an amazing world populated with paranormal creatures. There are references to famous playwrights, musicians, monarchs and popes. It was kind of wonderful to see find out who was human and who wasn't and how the creatures traits were woven into the existing historical figures behaviors.

I also really loved the interplay of genetics in this book. Science can be kind of a turn off because it's not my strong suit and sometimes it just confuses me enough that I can no longer follow the story. However all of the science here makes sense and the explanations are basic enough that I don't feel like I'm lost in it. The science part of the plot was enough to even make my fiance interested in the story. (Not a big paranormal fiction reader). I especially like the idea of science and magic being tied together in such a strong way. I've always thought that the best kinds of magic were probably science that hasn't been explained yet and this book subscribes to that theory in a strong way.

I loved getting to know the characters in this book as well, from Diana and Matthew to Ysabeau and Sophie. While not everyone is obviously likable initially they are all interesting. Reading about them opening up to each other and their origins or even just the long lives they have had the opportunities to lead was one of the things that really kept me going.

Matthew and Diana's relationship at the moment does leave something to be desired, mainly because Matthew is kind of stuck with many of the sensibilities he developed during his life and because of his predatory instinct. Right now Diana is walking a very thin line, trying not to become subservient but being more flexible then she would normally be to accommodate for him. One of the things I love about Diana is how strong and independent she is and I don't want to see her lose that. I also like Matthew chivalrous nature but these habits of his to dominate make me wonder if I am going to continue to like him. I can't wait to read the next book in the trilogy and see what happens and learn more about the world the author has created. (Of course with my luck that wont be for forever.

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