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09 June 2013

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls #1)

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness is the first book in her All Souls trilogy which takes place in a slightly alter version of our world. Along with humans there are three other types of humanoids inhabit the earth - witches, vampires and daemons. They go about their lives just like us and try not to let us humans notice that they are different.

Diana Bishop is a historian and professor. She is taking a year to study the history of alchemy at Oxford where she had access to original illustrated manuscripts her work is based upon. She is also a witch. Since the age of 8 she has tried to deny her connection to magic and witchcraft. In fact, she refuses to use magic. And she has only slipped up 5 times this year, but fixing the washing machine should not count as the result of not using magic would have caused a flood.

Her year is going along on schedule until she requests the manuscript Ashmole 782. When she receives it, she can feel it magic. She lays her hand on it and it opens. Though she tries to focus on the illustrations and historical significance of the book, it feels like someone has put a spell on the book. She quickly finishes and returns the book to the archives.

Soon Diana notices more creatures (vampires, witches and daemons) in the Bodleian. And she is constantly being followed. Including by a vampire who introduces himself as Matthew Clairmont. He is a professor and doctor of genetics. Her aunts always told her that creatures do not mix with other types of creatures, but Diana is curious about him. And he is shocked that she had a book that everyone has been looking for for almost a century and simply returned it to the archives.

But others will not be so understanding of Diana perceived mistake. Witches and vampires will stop at nothing for the information she held in her hands. Daemons, who are less dangerous than the other creatures, will beg her for her help to retrieve it.

Harkness has created a world that will delight readers and leave them begging for more. Buy the first two books today and wait impatiently with me for the third to be published. Reader who liked the Night Circus will love this book.

Harkness, Deborah. (2011). A Discovery of Witches. New York: Penguin Books.

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