Monday, October 24, 2011

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness is a Great Find!

Deborah Harkness is a woman after my own heart.  She is a lifelong student of history.  She loves libraries.  She loves wine and wrote a blog about her search for great wines under $20.00.  She started writing fiction with the classic question “What if?”
From her passions comes a novel that encompasses all of the above and throws in witches, vampires and daemons for good measure.  I LOVED “A Discovery of Witches”.
Dr. Diana Bishop is a historian with a specialty in historical alchemists.  She is exploring the connection between magic and science.  Her studies have brought her to England and the famous Bodleian Library.  She is pulling research material out of the stacks when a book dating back to the 17th century called “Ashmole 782 comes into her hands.  She knows this book is different from all the rest she has been researching.   She is a witch, a real one who’s family can be traced directly to Bridget Bishop who was executed during the Salem Witch trials. This book connects to her.  Simply touching it makes her hands tingle and the hairs on the back of her neck prickle.  So begins a story of intrigue, tension and a forbidden romance.
Once Diana opens Ashmole 782 a whole host of “Creatures” start showing up.  Some just want to see what happens next while others actively seek the answers they believe are in the book.  One of these creatures is a 1500 year old Vampire named Matthew Clairmont.  He is also a scientist and he is researching the evolution of the supernatural beings sharing the planet with human beings.  You see, there are 4 species of humanoids on earth: humans, vampires, witches and daemons.  Once the humans were in the minority but time and circumstances have changed the world and now the creatures are far exceeded by the humans.  Matthew wants to know why and how and if anything can be done to keep his race from becoming extinct.
This story takes you from the hallowed colleges of Oxford to a fortress in France and humble family home in New England and by the end back to the past.  Relationships bloom and die.  For every question answered 3 more pop up. The cast of supporting characters are as well written as Diana and Matthew.  Mysteries abound and no one is as they seem, especially Diana.  As I read I felt like I was reading the paranormal version of the Davinci Code and like Dan Brown’s bestseller A Discovery of Witches is as fascinating for it’s historical research as it is the story itself.
I read some of the reviews on Amazon before I started mine.  I like to see if I am in-line with other readers and what I found was either you love this book or hate it.  I fall, most definitely, in the love column.  Ms. Harkness creates a world of sensuality and tension.  The dinner scene between Diana and Matthew is nothing short of sexy and all he is doing is introducing her to the world of wine tasting, there is no sex.  I was leaning forward in my chair waiting for him to kiss the wine from her lips and I was left wanting just like Diana!  Then the sensual becomes brutal when Satu, a powerful witch literally tries to peel the magic from Diana’s body.  Ms. Harkness has a wonderful talent of placing me right in the middle of the moment.  Awesome!
But I have to be honest.  The end of the book sends them traveling beyond geographical limits.  Yep, that’s right, they time travel…..arghhh.  That was the only stinker in an otherwise perfect read!  I am looking forward to the sequel Shadow of Night.  The expected release date is next summer.

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