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Guest review: A Discovery of Witches

February 11, 2011

I recently spoke with my sister, Karen, and she told me she was reading  A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness and didn’t want to put it down.  Since then, she’s finished the book and this is what she had to say about it:

Unknown to humans they share the world with three groups of creatures:  witches, vampires and daemons.  When Diana Bishop, the only child of two witches, is seven years old her parents are brutally murdered while on an anthropological trip to Africa.  Led to believe they were killed by humans because of who they were, she renounces her heritage and sets out to be as normal as possible.  She immerses herself in academia earning a doctorate in the history of science from Oxford before becoming a tenured professor at Yale.  Returning to Oxford to complete a research project she is working in the Bodleian Library when she calls up an alchemical manuscript known as Ashmole 782.  It turns out that every creature for miles around wants to get their hands on that particular manuscript.


Yes, this book is a fantasy, but it is a lot more than that.  At its most basic, it is a story of forbidden love; a powerful witch and a handsome, enigmatic vampire who find themselves irresistibly drawn to each other. This tale also has plenty of mystery, suspense, and adventure.  I loved this book.  For me it was one very captivating read.  I had a hard time putting it aside when I had other things to do.  I was really disappointed when I came to the end.  It’s a fairly long book, 579 pages, and I still wanted more.   So, that should tell you something about just how compelling a story this is.  Read A Discovery of Witches.  You won’t be disappointed in this one.

Review copy provided by Penguin Books.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
36 Comments leave one →
  1. February 11, 2011 6:57 am

    It’s not typically my genre, but has received amazing reviews. Great post.

  2. February 11, 2011 6:58 am

    NPR Book Notes featured this book yesterday! I’m tempted. Nice review 🙂

  3. February 11, 2011 7:34 am

    I am looking at an advert in a mag to buy this book as I read your post. I must have it!

  4. February 11, 2011 7:52 am

    That is high praise indeed, when a book can keep you on the edge of your seat for 580 pages! Great review 🙂

  5. February 11, 2011 8:08 am

    Great job, Karen! I’m so excited to read this book – I can’t believe it’s part of a trilogy, though, so I’m really going to hold off on reading it as much as I possibly can until book two comes out – I have a feeling that I’m going to hate waiting for the second book! This book is totally right up my alley, too, so glad to read that you enjoyed it 🙂

  6. February 11, 2011 8:17 am

    On hold on audio at the library! (The library at first rejected my request, then I found out I can only have ten items on hold! Whoops!). EW gave it so-so reviews, but I have yet to see a bad one on the blogs.

  7. February 11, 2011 8:56 am

    Every one seems to be loving this book! I may have to join the library queue!

  8. February 11, 2011 9:01 am

    Awesome review, Karen! I have been getting progressively more and more excited about this book as I read the many great reviews on it. It sounds like this is one that I could just curl up with and read straight through! Thanks for sharing your very insightful post with us!

  9. February 11, 2011 9:03 am

    I love that you can talk books with your sister, not something I’m comfortable with. Great review thanks.

  10. February 11, 2011 9:52 am

    I would have never thought to read this one – but between Nicole Of Linus’s Blanket and your sisters thoughts here Kathy I am so tempted….. going to Barnes and Noble tomorrow and I do have a gift card.. 🙂

  11. February 11, 2011 11:04 am

    great review, I’ll have to try this, thanks!

  12. February 11, 2011 11:44 am

    What more can you say after saying you want more of a 500+ page book to keep going. Excellent review. Your’s in the second to say it’s more than just a fantasy. I’m really intrigued.

  13. February 11, 2011 11:48 am

    Ordinarily, I would pass over this kind of book, but the postive review and buzz makes me want to check it out or maybe I should wait for Book Two (I hate to be left hanging).

  14. February 11, 2011 11:55 am

    Loved your sister’s review! I’ve been hearing some wonderful things about this book and after reading this post I know that I definitely want to pick up a copy. Sounds like it will be such a fun and captivating read. Can’t wait!

  15. February 11, 2011 12:48 pm

    So many people are raving about this book – I need to read it!

  16. February 11, 2011 1:22 pm

    Nice review.
    I never knew it was that long! But sounds good

  17. February 11, 2011 2:33 pm

    I am so glad to know that she loved it…I have it on my Kindle but I have read both good and bad reviews about it…I tend to want to believe the good ones like your sister’s review.

  18. February 11, 2011 2:38 pm

    I am dying to read this one after seeing so many great review. I’m sure it’s going to be a big hit this winter/spring. I just need to find more time!

  19. February 11, 2011 3:01 pm

    This book is so far outside the genres I read and yet I am continually being drawn to it. I liked the guest review, well done.

  20. February 11, 2011 4:54 pm

    I keep hearing amazing things about this book! Great review!

  21. February 11, 2011 6:29 pm

    Hadn’t heard about this one; thanks for putting it on my radar!

  22. February 11, 2011 7:02 pm

    It is a very compelling book! I can’t wait for the sequel and this has only been out for 3 days lol.

  23. February 11, 2011 8:44 pm

    I keep seeing “pro” reviewers rave about this book. Good to hear a “real” person loved it too!

  24. February 11, 2011 8:55 pm

    I’m on chapter 4 right now…it’s pretty entertaining so far!

  25. February 12, 2011 7:05 am

    I had to skim this because the book is on my TBR — but I am very encouraged by the last line — if you want more, it must be good.

  26. February 12, 2011 9:30 am

    Okay! It’s up next for me. I can’t wait!

  27. February 12, 2011 11:39 am

    I was lucky enough to get a copy of this one and really look forward to the time I will get to spend reading it..sounds like one I will enjoy!

  28. February 12, 2011 1:16 pm

    Off to the library to put in a request for this one. It’s quite an eye catching title, too, and it sounds like a book I’d really enjoy.

  29. February 12, 2011 6:18 pm

    Karen you have me convinced that this fantasy tale is something I should rip into right away. Forbidden love between a witch and vampire… hmm sounds like the plan and can’t wait to read it myself. I’m a sucka for romance!

  30. February 12, 2011 10:06 pm

    Wow! What a review! I have this book in my tbr stack and I think I need to pull it to the top.

  31. February 13, 2011 7:24 pm

    Wow, that certainly makes me want to add this book onto my wishlist!!

  32. February 16, 2011 2:04 am

    This one has been on my ‘to buy’ radar for a while now.

  33. February 17, 2011 2:10 pm

    I’m glad to see Karen enjoyed this one! I thought it was a great book too.

  34. February 17, 2011 10:48 pm

    I love your sister’s review. It is compellingly succinct and makes me want to read the book. I’ve been hearing loads of good things about this one lately.

  35. March 1, 2011 11:41 pm

    I just love the mere idea of this book. When I was a little girl, I was fascinated by witches – I still am. I really enjoyed your sister’s review. It is nice to have someone else write a review for your blog – I always enjoy when my sister feels that excited about a book that she wants to write about it for me.

  36. July 24, 2012 4:56 pm

    It’s not a genre I typically read but it’s EVERYWHERE and everyone says good things. Hard to ignore when it’s all positive.

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