Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) by Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) by Deborah Harkness

This is an adult paranormal romance novel (Rated R)

4 out of 5 stars

Book Summary

A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

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.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. 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. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

My Review

Great things I’d heard about this book and when it went on sale at, I picked it up.  At twenty four hours of listening, I didn’t immediately dive into it.  This week, I finally gave it a shot. 

The first couple of hours were painful to listen to.  Not much happened and a lot of repetitive events went on.  I said to myself, everyone said it was good and carried on.

During the second two thirds of the book, the pace was a bit like a rollercoaster.  Steaming slowly ahead to the top and then a race with fast pace to the bottom only to climb another hill.  Again, I was still frustrated but started to enjoy the book.

The last half was full steam ahead and had me captured in its grips.  I couldn’t stop listening for fear I’d miss something.

So, I have a lot to say.  I’ll start with my likes and dislikes.  Then I go into explanations which may have bits of spoilers but I not a spoiler person.  I won’t be explaining in detail the plot.


  • It was too long.  I felt like we were reliving Diana’s life painful second by second.  Some of the telling of meals, sleeping and such can be important.  But honestly, all of what was given didn’t really add to the story much.  I have a feeling the author wanted us to feel the effects of the painfully slow parts so that we could appreciate the more exciting ones.  I would have preferred summary.  I didn’t need to be in the library everyday learning nothing new for a few hours of listening.  That could have been summarized in a few paragraphs.
  • Because the book was so slow, I picked up on themes common in other big name books.  Twilight, Morganville Vampires, and Hunger Games.  Maybe if the pace of the story moved faster, I wouldn’t have had a chance to compare while listening this book with those mentioned above. (I’ll explain in the spoiler section.)
  • The change of POV seemed like a cop out.  It was the author’s way to give us information that Diana didn’t have not to give us more insight into Matthew per sa.  The change of POV only came when necessary, no rhythm when he would show up.
  • Worst of all offenders “INSTA LOVE”.  Both of these characters are old enough to know better.  The author does acknowledge and try to explain it.  I’m just not sure on this point.


  • The book was methodical which appealed to my analytical side.  I think that going through each day let us understand her better.  Still I don’t think we needed to know when she brushed her teeth. Okay, that was a bit of an exaggeration.
  • It is well written. I wouldn’t describe the words as beautiful because this isn’t a beautiful story. But the author did an amazing job at bringing her words to life in full Technicolor.

Okay, a bit of SPOILERS here.  Nothing in plot detail, but I am going to mention things in the story.


This book seems inspired by Twilight.  It could be a coincidence.  But check out my logic below.  Mind you, I read Twilight a couple of years ago and did enjoy the first book.

  • Forbidden love.  In itself, is not a reason but combined you will see.
  • The main female’s blood being so desirable to the main guy.
  • The guy stalking the girl.  Watching over her when she isn’t aware or is.
  • Wants to leave her for her protection.
  • Family of “made” vampires who stick together even if they don’t initially like the main female.
  • Feeding from animals as an alternative to human blood.
  • Being chaste until marriage. 
  • Possibility of a child that may not be like other children.  Man guy would prefer not to have a child if it puts mother at risk.
  • The vampires walk in sunlight.  No these vampires don’t sparkle, but the author continues to mention the “pearl” like quality to Matthews skin throughout the story.  Pearls have a little luster and shimmer to them.  Hmmm.

Still, it’s like the author took Twilight made it more grown up and improved on the writing.

All and all, a bit hard to ignore.  It’s interesting how Stephanie Meyer inspired popular books. (My Blood Approves – Amanda Hockings and Fifty Shades of Grey – E.L. James)

Other Themes

It’s interesting how the vampires are becoming a little more unhinged and dying out like Morganville Vampires.  This book only briefly mentions it, but as soon as I heard it, I thought of that other series.

Also, Hunger Games (HG).  And you say why.  Real loosely, but the whole bow and arrow held by girls and women seems to be popping up everywhere now including this story.  And the name Hammich.  I listened to both books, so I’m unsure of the spelling.  But the name is similar to the one used in HG.

Overall, I think it’s worth a read.  Suffer through the first half knowing there is a pay off.  I bought the next book, so I’m moving on straight away.

Audio Review

Jenniger Ikeda did a stellar job.  She was amazing at throwing her voice, capturing accents, speaking in other languages.  She made the book bearable when it was slow and swept me away into this world the whole time.

 My book boyfriend is Matthew.

View all my reviews

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  1. I really enjoyed your review on this Terri! Seems like we had similar thoughts on it, definitely with all the Twilight comparisons and it being insanely detailed in some seemingly mundane areas. I'm looking forward to your review in the next one.

    Check out my blog! :)