A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness is like Twilight for adults. A couple of years ago I decided to try the wildly popular Twilight series and found the first book terribly juvenile. But recently, I picked up A Discovery of Witches, also extremely popular and with similar themes. I just finished reading it and had a lot of fun.
Diana Bishop is a Yale science historian visiting at Oxford to study alchemy. She is also a witch, from a long line of witches. But ever since her parents were murdered in Africa when she was seven, she has refused to learn about and tries not to use witchcraft.
She is working in the Bodleian Library when among the manuscripts she calls up is one called Ashmole 782. As soon as she touches it, she can tell it is powerfully enchanted. To keep true to her vow not to use witchcraft, she refers to it as she would any other manuscript and then sends it back.
Not long after, she meets a mysterious vampire named Matthew Clairmont, a well-known but reclusive genetic scientist. He is interested in the book but disturbingly warns her to beware of other witches. As she has been brought up to fear vampires, she is appalled at his warning and tries to avoid him. But she soon figures out he is actually trying to protect her from the other vampires, witches, and daemons who have suddenly appeared in the library, despite the dictum that the three species are not supposed to draw attention to themselves from humans. Matthew explains that they all want Ashmole 782.
Soon Diana and Matthew have formed a strong bond of attraction, but because Diana has neglected her education in her heritage, she is unaware that relationships between the species are strictly forbidden.
This is a lively and engrossing book, sometimes light and comic but other times fraught with romance, danger, action, and suspense. You care about Diana and Matthew and are interested to see where their story is leading. The book also introduces other fascinating characters, such as Diana’s aunts, Matthew’s family, and Diana’s aunt’s house. Yes, it is a character. Matthew–overly protective, quick to anger, not always under control–makes a much more convincing vampire than does the sulky, languishing Edward from Twilight, and Diana is a lot smarter and more interesting than Bella. This book is the first of a series of three, and I’ll be looking forward to the second book.