Last week I stumbled upon a new Sky original tv show called A Discovery of Witches, I loved it at first sight. So, you can only imagine my excitement when I found out it was based on a book of the same name written by Deborah Harkness. I bought the book the next day and within two days I had devoured the 688 pages of pure escapism. It’s such a mesmerising world Harkness has created for her main characters Diana and Matthew, and it took me back to 2008 when I discovered Twilight, accompanied by the pure joy of the world my beloved characters lived in.
This book is based on a woman called Diana, who also happens to be a witch. She is a very talented and well-respected historian of science who is spending a year in Oxford, England researching Alchemy. Diana is not like the rest of the witches who surround her in Oxford, she no longer wants or uses her powers which actually causes more bad than good. While researching Alchemy in Oxford’s Bodleian Library Diana comes across an enchanted manuscript which unlocks her powers once more, the manuscript is called Ashmole 782. This enchanted book not only reawakens Diana’s powers but also makes the rest of the creatures in Oxford very aware of Diana and her abilities.
Witches are not the only humanoid creatures on earth however, Diana also shares her world with Demons and Vampires. Ashmole 782 holds the secrets of the creatures past and their future, and a handsome vampire named Matthew Clairemont will do anything it takes to get hold of Ashmole 782, but what he doesn’t know is that Diana will become just as important to him as the enchanted manuscript itself.
It’s a captivating book, the history of Ashmole perfectly entwined with the fantasy of Diana’s world of creatures lurking in the dark. I couldn’t stop turning the pages, and I actually felt my knowledge deepening as I read Diana’s perspective on the world and her love of history. Harkness has been praised for the accuracy of the history and science in this book, and it creates an enchanting read from start to finish. I loved the relationship between Diana and Matthew, in some books (ahem… Twilight) the main female protagonist is usually a damsel in distress who seems to not even be able to tie their own shoelaces without their strong vampire beau. However, I felt in Diana’s case she sticks to her guns and powers on like the strong female lead she is, yes we have the protectiveness of her vampire admirer but usually, Diana is still a character who really pushes the plot forward and not just a damsel to swoop in and save.
I really REALLY recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction and fantasy. It’s a book that keeps you guessing, I really didn’t see the end plot twist coming and I lept at the second book in the trilogy. It’s a superb mix of all the creatures we love, with a history lesson in alchemy woven between the pages. The world is plotted out perfectly, it didn’t once leave me questioning or stumbling over the world Diana and Matthew live in, which is so important when trying to get a reader pulled into the world you are creating. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into Shadow of Night.
Happy Reading x