“A Discovery of Witches” by Deborah Harkness
Many people refuse to read fantasy books. They find them too outlandish, too scientific or simply too unrelatable. However, “A Discovery of Witches” by Deborah Harkness (the first in the All Souls trilogy) is something of an exception.
“A Discovery of Witches” is an excellent take on the genres of romance, science and fantasy. Diana Bishop is a witch who refuses to accept who and what she is, studying alchemy at Oxford College and refusing to use her supernatural gifts. Everything she’s been running from her entire life seems to be far behind her in England: her infamous magical heritage, her magic and her parents gruesome murder finally feel swept under the rug. But when she goes looking for a particular manuscript for her research, Ashmole 782, she stumbles across Matthew Clairmont, a centuries old vampire who is somehow strangely connected to her in past, present and future. The unlikely pair immediately forge an unbreakable bond, tied together by forces stronger than even they can understand. Together, they start on a journey to uncover the secrets of Diana’s parents’ murders, which are mysteriously connected to Ashmole 782 and the Bishop family’s witchcraft.
While romance is a significant part of the plot, there is much more to “A Discovery of Witches” than just a love story. Harkness does an excellent job of weaving science, magic and history into her chapters, keeping the book from getting too fantasy-driven. There are vampires, warlocks, witches and daemons, but she also includes references to Shakespeare and Isaac Newton. Harkness also takes great care to make this feel like an adult read. This isn’t “Twilight” or Harry Potter; instead, it’s much more along the lines of “The Magicians” by Lev Grossman, another adult fantasy book based in modern times with fantastical twists, keeping the reader entertained while still very much hooked into the characters and their adventures.
Deborah Harkness is a New York Times Best Selling author, writing both fiction and nonfiction stories and is also a highly regarded historian of science and medicine. She has published two other books in the All Souls trilogy, including “Shadow of the Night” and “The Book of Life.”