Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harness
Review by Jacqui Slaney
Have you ever seen a title of a film or TV series and think, ‘I know that story’.
I was like that when I saw ‘Discovery of witches’ advertised, I saw a few trailers and kept saying to myself I must have read the book, this story seems so familiar.
It turned out in the end, that I hadn’t read it at all, it was just one of those books that I had looked into, meant to get it, but never got round to actually buying the thing. After watching the first episode though it gave me the push to buy the book, and then I stopped watching the TV show as I wanted to read the book first before seeing the changes the TV had made.
The Blurb:A world of witches, daemons and vampires.
A manuscript which holds the secrets of their past and the key to their future.
Diana and Matthew - the forbidden love at the heart of it.
When historian Diana Bishop opens an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it's an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life. Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent death of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft. Now Diana has unwittingly exposed herself to a world she's kept at bay for years; one of powerful witches, creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires.
Sensing the significance of Diana's discovery, the creatures gather in Oxford, among them the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire geneticist.
Diana is inexplicably drawn to Matthew and, in a shadowy world of half-truths and old enmities, ties herself to him without fully understanding the ancient line they are crossing. As they begin to unlock the secrets of the manuscript and their feelings for each other deepen, so the fragile balance of peace unravels...
The story starts with a witch called Diana researching history in the Oxford university library, and who meets a vampire called Matthew who is interested in a book she has called up to read. Interesting you might say, but hardly riveting stuff.
Just to give you a little more detail then, just to see if I can catch your interest- Diana is trying not to use her magic due to things that happened in her family. The vampire is a highly respected doctor, and the Oxford Library is suddenly full of daemons and not so friendly witches and vampires all of whom are interested in the book that Diana had.
As the story rolls on, the relationship between Diana and Matthew grows and develops, don’t worry, this isn’t a grown up version of twilight, there are no sparkly vampires here, far from it.
This relationship is forbidden and breaks all the laws of their world, they are warned and so it ultimately leads to conflict, violence and danger for not only them but their families as well, they realise though that the conflict has been coming and it’s not just about them.
All through the story though, the book that Diana called up for her research is the keystone, the mystery that has to be broken to help save them all.
The writing is good and it is easy to get caught up with the characters, all of them are well described, even the supporting cast.
Reading other reviews, people complain about Diana swooning and fainting all over the place- to be honest- I must have missed that, as it didn’t register as a complaint with me.
If I was going to pick holes I could say that the regular references to cold skin against warm and the continued mention of how things smell- as all vampires have an incredible sense of smell can be a little trying, but when I got caught up in the story even they stopped annoying me. Diana started off annoying me, but as her character develops you understand what drives her.
I liked the book a lot, it was easy to get lost in, certain scenes are well handled- Matthew hunting, the description of Diana’s house in Salem with all her family ghosts,- the scene with the Norwegian witch ( I will not go into detail about this bit, but when you get there, you will understand) Diana’s memories of her mother that helped her fly.
I could go on, even writing about those few scenes I want to mention the yoga class and more but I must leave other readers to make their own mind.
I should warn perhaps there is some violence in places, after all this is a story about witches and vampires and they don’t get on!
I hope I have tweaked your interest, I liked this book so much I went and bought the next two, and in my opinion it’s definitely worth a read.