Book Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness


“As far as I can tell, there are only two emotions that keep the world spinning, year after year. One is fear. The other is desire.”

I wanted to love this book. I’m so mad at myself for not loving it. Truly, I am, but there were just so many things that made me cringe. It also took me forever to listen to. There were times when I didn’t feel like listening to it, but again I try to give every book a chance.

The only thing that saved this book from earning a 1 or 2 star from me was the setting and some of the storylines (there were many). The story takes place in Oxford (swoon) in a library (swoon x10) and then later in France, and we round it off by ending in the United States. The premise is interesting enough, a scholar finds an ancient manuscript that contains mysteries everyone is trying to get their hands on! That’s like golden adventure status right there! Plus you throw in some vampires and witches and you got magic (haha, pun intended). There is a lot of science behind the creation and idea of vampires, witches, and daemons and it was all super interesting and it was really cool how much time and research the author put into, but… that is probably where the compliments end. Sorry.

Diana and Matthew. *Sigh* I had high hopes for our witch protagonist and vampire protagonist, both who fall in love with each other (I couldn’t help thinking throughout the book how the hell they were going to be with each other in the future when he’s, you know, IMMORTAL). At first, Diana seemed super cool, smart, and independent. She had an interesting tragic story/background. Then, Matthew, the vampire comes around (stalking her, not a great start) with his hyper-masculine self and asserts himself throughout the book to Diana and everyone else (for those of you who read ACOTAR – he reminds me of Tamlin *shivers*). AND THEY JUST ACCEPT IT! Except, Diana’s aunt, Sarah who is probably the only one with her own mind in the book and my only favorite character. It just made me really uncomfortable. I was hoping the whole time that Diana at one point would side with her aunts or defend them, but nope – she was star-eyed over Matthew the whole time and their love story just became kind of cringe-worthy. She even questions herself at several points in the book and is all “he lied to me” or “he kept this from me” or “he is the general of this house.” UM EXCUSE THAT IS YOUR AUNTS HOUSE? And she is just okay with all of that. I think what would have made this more interesting is if he turned out to be a villain, but nope. I also felt bad for Marcus (his son? who Diana then calls her son?! ew.) and him being all under Matthew’s glorious shadow. We hear a bit about Marcus’s background and I think I would rather read a book about him than Matthew, who can’t help but name drop every important person in the history of the Western world.

I really feel like I should stop, friends. I think it only gets worse from here. *sad face* Diana is not a well-rounded character for me. Before anyone gets on me about criticizing unlikable characters, I always appreciate unlikable characters but Diana goes beyond that. She has absolutely nothing to offer the story except that she is the most powerful witch in a long time, but complains about absolutely everything except Matthew. Also, she faints a lot.

Okay, I’m done. I did read that this was going to be made into a T.V. series. I’m hoping that maybe the T.V. writers fix some characters and storylines. This might be one of the only times when I pray that the on screen-adaption is better than the book.

Now the question you might be asking is: Are you planning to read the second book? Well, friends, I am curious about how the story will end and what will happen, but I just can’t bare to listen to more nauseating romance between Matthew and Diana and hear Matthew being his important self. So maybe… in the far far future.


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