Review: A Discovery of Witches

Se Souvenir du passe, et qu’il ya un avenir: Remember the past, and that there is a future.

Deborah Harkness, A Discovery of Witches
#bookstagram featuring The All Souls Trilogy novels!

I decided to reread this after having watched the TV show – which is kind of an ultimate guilty pleasure show – because I had recalled really loving the novel. I was right. This novel scratched an itch I hadn’t even known I had.

The world Harkness created was so rich and vibrant. It is painfully close to our own world, making it easy to believe it’s real. A secret dream of mine is to be a full time academic and study in some of the great universities of the world, so the setting and characters drew me in immediately.

Intriguing characters, who hold their secrets tightly, populate this novel and we get to experience the frustration of not knowing all the answers along with the protagonist – Diana Bishop. The story is told from Diana’s point of view, taking us on her journey of self-discovery, magical growth, and romance. The other characters that we learn to love and hate all feel complex (read: real) and like they could jump off the page and lead full lives in our real world. Matthew Clairmont, a centuries old vampire and scientist, is our other main character. Cold and vaguely creepy to start, we have to learn to love him just as Diana does. I won’t pretend that this novel isn’t caught up in the ‘pack mentality’ trope that often exists in Paranormal Romance novels. It is often a problematic trope, depriving women of agency and the ability to save themselves, but Diana isn’t a Bella, and doesn’t immediately crave this treatment – and certainly doesn’t let Matthew just get away with it without comment. Diana’s relationship with herself is complicated, and she is working through a belated coming of age at the same time that she is trying to navigate a complicated relationship with Matthew – and his family.

I believe what draws me to this novel the most is the fact that Diana is an adult. She is unequivocally an adult, but is still learning and growing and unsure of her place in the world. There is often a sense that we have to have figured it all out as an adult, but the reality is much more complex. She is someone a lot of readers can relate to. I certainly did. Diana is very confident in her intelligence and academic prowess, but has to take a journey of self discovery to come into her own in so many other aspects of her life.

I’m so glad that I picked this novel back up – and FINALLY picked up the sequel. Look forward to a review of Shadow of Night at a later date!

4/5 Stars

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