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A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness book review

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All Souls Trilogy

Source: www.adiscoveryofwitches.co.uk

By Joanna Shaw

A Discovery of Witches was recommended to me and I was a little dubious at first, however, the plot seemed a lot more adult orientated rather than teenage girls pining over a sparkly vampire like the Twilight series. I started the book cautiously, convincing myself that it wouldn’t entertain me, but how wrong I was.

It follows Diana Bishop, a historian of alchemy, descended from a long line of pagan witches. She is searching for the hidden secrets within the manuscript Ashmole 782, an ancient script housed in the famous Bodleian library in Oxford. On her search for the truth, she encounters Matthew Clairmont, a geneticist and centuries-old vampire, who warns her of the dangers that may occur if she delves any deeper into the manuscript.

I was completely enraptured by this novel, and as a lover of the classic and modern styles of the horror genre, I felt that Harkness clearly described this world in which vampires, daemons, witches and humans live amongst each other (but not always harmoniously). Harkness’ setting of choice for the novel is mainly Oxford. Even though I’ve only visited the city a handful of times, Harkness vividly portrays her favourite destinations such as Blackwell’s bookshop and Oxford University, and captures the general feeling and mood of this exciting but sometimes dangerous city.

In comparison, the characters are a lot more diverse and fascinating compared to the Twilight series. Diana Bishop is a strong female heroine with powers she cannot always control, but will always insist on her opinions being heard. I will admit her romance with Matthew is a little bit generic, but Matthew never comes across as overly dominating in their relationship. His inner demons still haunt him from his many previous encounters with some famous historical figures, making him come across sometimes as troubled and maybe a bit bitter. There are elements of the brooding and mysterious Mr Rochester in Charlotte Bronte’s classic Jane Eyre. Both Diana and Matthew appear as strong willed and captivating, so much so I could not close the book.

My overall view of A Discovery of Witches is that if you love a good mystery with added elements of horror and romance then this Halloween go and buy yourself a copy. But be warned, you may not want to put it down.

I give it 4 out of 5.

Joanna Shaw is a second year English and Film student and loves nothing more than a good book. Follow her on Twitter @booklifereads

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aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

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