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A Discovery of Witches

A witch and a vampire vs the world

A Discovery of Witches. Deborah Harkness

When historian Diana Bishop opens an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it’s an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life. Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent death of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft.


Now Diana has unwittingly exposed herself to a world she’s kept at bay for years; one of powerful witches, creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires. Sensing the significance of Diana’s discovery, the creatures gather in Oxford, among them the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire geneticist. Diana is inexplicably drawn to Matthew and, in a shadowy world of half-truths and old enmities, ties herself to him without fully understanding the ancient line they are crossing. As they begin to unlock the secrets of the manuscript and their feelings for each other deepen, so the fragile balance of peace unravels…

Watch it on screen Somebody falls in love Features science fiction Has a sequel Scenes of steamy romance Features a handsome leading man

Review by Rare Birds

Right, here’s the classic problem with what we’ll call sexy books. So much time and energy is typically devoted to the couple’s – ahem – chemistry – that sometimes things like plotting (understandably) fall by the wayside.


If you liked the idea of Twilight or have found yourself idly daydreaming about how life would be if you got a letter saying you’ve been picked to go to Hogwarts, Discovery of Witches is the book for you.


It all starts out innocently enough. Our heroine Diana is a brilliant visiting historian and possibly the only person who’s ever genuinely thought being a witch is uncool.


She’s v. busy denying her magical powers, filling her days and nights with research and writing papers about alchemy, when a chance encounter with an *enchanted book* causes a huge disturbance in the force.


The disturbance we speak of is, of course, the story’s resident tall dark and handsome brooding hero. Enter Matthew Clairmont, a vampire so sophisticated he can only wear grey cashmere and swear in french. He likes wine, he does yoga, he’s a scientist with intimacy issues who only knows how to push the people he loves away. What more could you ask for?


The book was a bestseller before it even hit the shelves, and its author Deborah Harkness – herself a professor and academic historian – added a bit of gravitas to the whole thing by building out the story with lots of accurate and believable details that made it feel all too plausible that a witch and a vampire would indeed meet at Oxford.


It is every inch a grown-up epic – it’s such a satisfying mix of genres that you’ll barely notice or mind that it’s over 600 pages long and you’ve had to call in sick to work because the thought of tearing yourself away is too much to bear.


And this is only Volume I – Discovery of witches if the first of the All Souls trilogy and ends in a way that will have you cursing the stars for not accepting the inevitable earlier and buying all three books at once so you can binge read in peace.

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