If there was ever a book I regret not reading sooner, A Discovery of Witches would be it. I didn’t think it would be quite my cup of coffee as time travel romance wasn’t really my thing and the comparisons I’d seen to Twilight put me off a bit. I wholeheartedly say how wrong I was (and also not sure how *anyone* can compare this to Twilight!) I was going through a bit of a reading slump at the time so was finding it hard to get enthused about many books. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it
The first thing that grabbed me was the attention to detail. I didn’t know at the time that Deborah Harkness is actually an Historian and that many of the things she wrote about, she knows on a professional level. Her love for the subject showed through her writing and that same love was displayed in Diana, the female lead character. Diana Bishop is a witch that has turned her back on her abilities and chosen the route of science and history in academia, a specialist in the subject of Alchemy. She is a great character, level headed but also has good reasons for the denial of her heritage as a witch. I loved seeing her work through her eyes and the curiosity that drives her. When she finds a magical manuscript in the course of her work, life takes an unexpected turn. Matthew Clairmont is a vampire geneticist who has been observing Diana and realises she is in trouble when the supernatural community take notice of her too.
The supernatural world is split into four types. Humans, daemons, vampires and witches. It should be noted that Daemons are not the Christian version of a demon but instead are creatures that are incredibly unstable and talented geniuses. Humans are, or should be, unaware of the existence of the others but the other three can tell each other apart instantly.
When the lost Ashmole 782 manuscript, rumoured to hold the key to the origins of all three types of creature, is discovered and awoken by Diana, the long journey for her and Matthew really begins.
This is not a fast paced, action packed book, it takes its time to get where it wants to be and I actually liked that a lot. I had time to get to know the characters, their habits, to get a good sense of who they are. The romantic side was slow paced as well and while I am a girl that enjoys a good sex scene, I felt the gentle approach really suited the pace of the story. It was sweet and romantic and the concept of bundling was fascinating. The gradual development also made for a good long build up to a solid relationship between Matthew and Diana. That the pace of the story is slow didn’t make it any less enthralling and I found it very hard to put down.
It’s quite a long book and Deborah’s writing style can be very descriptive but for me, it just added depth to the story. It also made me want to drink a lot of tea ;) As an aside, look out for the house which is almost a character in its own right… I so want it!
All in all, a wonderful story, full of rich detail and characters who while may not be human, still make mistakes and are not perfect. I can’t wait for book two, Shadow of Night!