Book Review: A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) by Deborah Harkness
When A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness was published in February 2011, I kept picking it up and putting it back down at the bookstore. I was unsure if I'd like the book or not and didn't want to pay full price on a hardcover book.
Fast forward to the day after Thanksgiving, and my mom and I were doing our ritual Black Friday shopping and stepped into Barnes & Noble. A Discovery of Witches was on sale at 40% off, and I had a membership card that would give me another 10% off. I also had a coupon that would give me yet another 20% off. I finally decided I would buy the book. However, my mom wanted to buy it for me as a Christmas present, so I let her.
It wasn't until July 2012 that I actually picked up the book to read, and I instantly fell in love with it. There isn't a way to describe what genre it belongs to because it is a cross over of sorts . . . fantasy, paranormal, historical fiction, a bit of science fiction, romance, and a bit of action.
Although the hardcover edition comes in at 579 pages, it sure doesn't feel like it is that long, which just attests to what a talented writer Deborah Harkness is. It's well written, descriptive, and flows easily, and even the talk of science related stuff was engrossing. A lot happens in A Discovery of Witches and does a great job of setting up the remaining two books in the trilogy.
What I find so hard to believe are all the negative reviews on Goodreads.com that complain that the book has no plot, being too descriptive, and telling too much of each of the character's back story. I love the fact that it has a ton of description because I felt like I was actually transported to each of the locations and knew the characters like they were my own friends and family. Deborah Harkness did her job well.
I personally don't know of one person who hasn't fallen in love with it, and many of those people don't enjoy the same types of books as I do. In fact, one of the book clubs I belong to read the trilogy, and we set up a private Pinterest board to pin actors and actresses that we thought should play each of the characters should it ever become a movie. As I write this, the first book is currently in production to become a television show!
Additionally, the entire trilogy has a bit of a cult following. There is a Facebook group that has over 8,000 members from all over the world, and members are meeting up in metropolitan areas to have tea and discuss the books. Members also are participating in a real time read of the book where you read a chapter, or multiple chapters, on the date they actually take place. There is also a convention for the trilogy that met in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana in September 2017 with another one happening next year in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Synopsis: Scholar Diana Bishop, the last in a long line of Bishops of Salem Witch Trials fame, calls up an alchemical manuscript from the stacks at Oxford's Bodleian Library for her research. Upon returning the manuscript to the stacks, Diana sets off a chain of events that brings all sorts of creatures to the library . . . witches, vampires, and daemons who want access to the bewitched manuscript she just returned.