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Saturday, December 19, 2015

A Discovery of Witches - Deborah Harkness

I really liked this book- though it took me a little while to get into it.    I later realized it was because there was a very slight Twilight vibe at beginning of it (girl meets vampire and much brooding commences), but thankfully, it really quickly shed that.  

Diana Bishop is a witch (we’re talking distinct species from humans, though they definitely pass as mere mortals most of the time).      Her parents were killed when she was very young because they were witches, so she long ago decided to stop using her power (or did she – that’s an important question).    Instead, she’s become a scholar, a historian, specializing in the history of alchemy.     She’s taken some time off from her job at Yale to do some time in residency at Oxford, doing research ahead of a conference.    That’s when she orders up a book refered to as Ashmole 782 – and quickly realizes it’s magic.       There are words under the words, but because she’s sworn off magic, she sends the book back.      But that’s when the creatures start to show up.

So, in this world, there are humans, witches, daemons (basically your super talented but also slightly crazy geniuses), and vampires.     And they all start coming out of the woodwork when Ashmole 782 shows up.    This includes a vampire named Matthew Clairmont.       And it’s very quickly clear to Diana that he’s keeping an eye on her.  

Matthew knows that the book is special, and that Diana could order it up makes her very special indeed.    Even though she doesn’t use her power, he can see the evidence of it all over her, which is very interesting to him.     He’s a geneticist, which he got into because he realized that the creatures are no longer reproducing as they had before – daemons don’t bred true, the power of the witches is diminishing through the generations, and vampires are having trouble turning mortals.       Her power is something that hasn’t been seen in a long time.

Oh, and have I mentioned that it’s forbidden to have relationships outside your own species?    I’m sure you can see where this is going – forbidden love, trying to figure out exactly what the book means, and a whole lot of alchemy.    I absolutely can’t do the full scope of the books justice in a quick summary.     What I can say is that I won enough points in our rewards program at work yesterday to get an Amazon gift certificate and I immediately went out and bought the next two books in the series (like during work hours immediately - it was a quick Friday afternoon).      Because even though I’ve been trying to buy most of my books used, only when I find them, I need to know what happens next.

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