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

Book Blurb:

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.

My Review:

This book is smart. Which is usually a weird thing one says about a book, granted. Often they’re described as entertaining, funny, tragic, etc., but–and I don’t know about you, but for me–I don’t usually throw around smart to describe a book.

This one, however, is smart. I love magic and monsters (obviously, if you’ve seen what I like to read) and this one has that in spades, but how it was presented, and how it attempted to deal with the larger themes of origin, segregation, and species, touched on just how smart this book was. Sure, Harry Potter had magic, but it didn’t have vampire scientists attempting to find the origin of all supernatural creatures or witches exploring history to unravel the past. Harry Potter accepted magic as a force and moved on (which I’m not disparaging in the slightest, but let’s face it, Harry Potter used emotion rather than logic to combat all the things wrong in the world), whereas the All Souls Trilogy examined the basis of origin (through a supernatural and magical lens) to combat bigotry and segregation.

See? Smart.

It was a journey made all the more engaging by the wonderful cast of characters and the forbidden romance between Diana and Matthew. The emotional components to go along with the logical examination the themes of the story tried to elaborate on. Now, I love a good flexing of the old noggin as much as the next girl, but the balance between the exploration of origin and the emotional turmoil the characters experienced cinched it for me. I couldn’t put this book down because of it.

It’s such a wonderful story. If you’re looking for something with more depth than your typical fantasy romance, I encourage you to pick it up. Join the bandwagon. Maybe watch the TV show. You won’t regret it. 5 out of 5 stars.

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