Book Review

A Discovery of Witches

Author: Deborah Harkness
Published (paperback): 2011, Penguin Books
Genre: Fantasy
Setting: Contemporary England/France/New England

Diana Bishop is a historian researching medieval alchemical texts at Oxford’s Bodleian Library. When she encounters a manuscript hidden for centuries, the supernatural world pursues her, and her repressed heritage as a powerful witch must surface.

This book starts with a promising plot and nice writing, but it quickly derails into syrupy romance complete with a controlling vampire, a whiny heroine, and a force of vampire “police”.

Sound familiar? It should. This is the book that Twilight built. The rooms may be in different locations and the furniture rearranged, but there are so many similarities (nearly exact scenes and dialogue) that the ‘P’ word crossed my mind multiple times.

To make matters worse, the story is a sludgy soup of supernatural: witches, vampires, daemons (not to be confused with demons), ghosts, time travel, an enchanted house, and a Roman goddess thrown in for good measure.

In the end, I happily imagined Supernatural’s Sam and Dean hunting down these characters and ending my misery. “I hate witches,” Dean would say.

The only positives are that it seemed well-researched and it held my attention enough to finish it.


Rating: 3/5


Have you read this book? I would love to know your thoughts!

Comment below!




26 thoughts on “A Discovery of Witches

    1. Unfortunately, I bought the whole series :(. But I don’t think I will read the second one. I can’t imagine that I would like it if you say it’s more boring that the first!

    1. There was such a buzz around the books that I had to give it a go. Glad you didn’t waste a lot of money on it! Thank you so much for subscribing and letting me know how you got here!

  1. The All Souls trilogy is one of my favorite! I loved it! Granted, the second book drags with the time travel and historical details but the action picks up on the third book again.
    Too bad you didn’t like it but I do have to disagree with you on the comparison with Twilight, which in my opinion doesn’t even come close to the writing and plot of A Discovery of Witches (but hey, we don’t all like the same colors either, do we?)…

    1. So many people love it, so I know I am a contrarian! The writing is better/more mature than Twilight and the overall plot is different for sure, but I had just finished rereading Twilight when I read this, and the similarities in general and in specific scenes were inescapable. Glad you enjoyed it, though! Have you been watching the TV series?

  2. I’ve been watching the TV show and thought about reading the book but most of the reviews I read were just like yours, so I decided against it. The TV show is quite slow going too, though I am enjoying it enough to stay with it at the moment.

  3. I read the first one a long time ago and remembered enjoying it but struggling with all the different unfamiliar creatures and world building and so many rules! I had never heard of daemons before and had to look them up

  4. Great review! The ranting ones are always so entertaining 😉 And really interesting to read the comments here. If this is actually a better Twilight (and I always thought someone should take that story and do something good with it), maybe I’ll give it a try. At least my expectations won’t be too high 😀

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