Mandy Moody's Reviews > A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
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's review
Jun 30, 11

really liked it
bookshelves: fanstasy, mysterious, vampire-smut
Read in June, 2011

This took me a while to get into...I was over 100 pages in before I really decided I was going to read it. By the middle of the book, though, I was hooked. About 2/3 of the way through I began to worry that there wasn't enough time left to wrap everything up, and the thought occurred to me that this was going to be another damn trilogy. A quick scan of the inside front cover confirmed it - "A Discovery of Witches is book one of the All Souls trilogy. Look for the next novel in 2012."
Great. Just what I love...waiting for sequels.
Fortunately (unfortunately?) book one was a major winner.

I adore this world.
Though there are similarities between A Discovery of Witches and the rest of the fantasy genre, there are some major differences, too.
Most importantly, it's a whole lot more intelligent. It also assumes it's audience is a whole lot more intelligent - taking time to set the story up, develop characters, contrive complicated plot points and surprise the reader with important bits of information that we never could have seen coming.
More Anne Rice, less Charlaine Harris.

The characters were wonderful. Diana isn't easy to like in the beginning (such a Pollyanna!) but by the end she was fantastic. The plot really supported her growth as a character and explained that early sweetness/weakness wonderfully.
Matthew Clairmont is everything a vampire should be - strong, broody, dangerous and tragic.
Families and friends were beautifully drawn, as well. I loved Ysabeau and Marthe as much as I loved Sarah and Em. Sophie and Nathan were an unexpected surprise, and Sophie's character especially was an awesome (but subtle) enhancement of the plot. Honestly, there wasn't a character in this book that I didn't think was well done.

I loved the historical infusion of the plot, and expect more of that with the next book. Elizabethan England - Matthew (and Harkness) couldn't have chosen a better spot in time!

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