A Discovery of Witches


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

So begins Deborah Harkness' a Discovery of Witches. Think of this story not as the Twilight series for adults but rather as a love story involving non-human creatures.

I am not a fan of books about vampires, witches, supernatural powers, parallel universes, etc. but I do like a well told story and a Discovery of Witches is just that. Diana Bishop is working on some research in the Bodleian Library of Oxford University. The Bodleian is one of the world's oldest libraries. Diana, a Ph.D., is doing research on ancient documents relating to alchemy. She also happens to come from a long line of witches. Her lineage dates back to Sarah Bishop of the Salem witch trials fame.

Since her parents death when she was 7 years old Diana has been raised by her two aunts, Emily and Sarah, also witches. Diana tries to ignore her abilities as a witch resulting in her being an overachiever in her "human" life.

While pouring over her manuscripts, Diana calls up from the bowels of the Bodelian a manuscript labeled "Ashmole 782." The manuscript, long thought lost by the witching world, is tightly bound up by spells which only Diana can release. And she does so much to her dismay. So upset that her witching powers have come out for the book, Diana sends it back to the stacks. Here is where her real trouble begins.

Diana notices the library is beginning to fill with other witches, daemons and vampires none of whom seem to wish her well. Except for the vampire Matthew Clairmont. Dr. Clairmont, as he is known in this incarnation, is a brilliant DNA researcher attached to another Oxford college.

The story now begins in earnest. Vampires and witches are not supposed to mix, let alone help each other, and really not fall in love. But these two do. In steps the Congregation, a sort of U.N. for witches, vampires and daemons. The Congregation enforces the rules of a pact made a thousand years ago that is to keep the species from killing each other. One of the rules is no mixing. Diana and Matthew ignore that rule while trying to find out the mystery of the Ashmole 782 document.

The plot moves forward through the attacks and betrayals that Matthew and Diana suffer just to be together. It is really a story of a love affair - 2 people who should never come together do despite the criticisms of both of their families.

I liked this book. The story is good and despite being a witch and a vampire, Diana and Matthew are great sympathetic characters. Get past the fact that instead of humans this story is about witches, vampires and daemons and you will like this book as well. Be aware that while there is a satisfying conclusion to the book there are enough threads still hanging for a sequel. Enjoy!

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