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A Discovery of Witches: Book One of the All Souls Trilogy

A Discovery of Witches is the first novel in Deborah Harkness’ "All Souls Trilogy." It sets the scene and introduces you to an amazing world full of various interesting beings. In this world, there are normal humans, but there are also vampires, witches, and daemons. The humans do not know that the creatures exist and the creatures tend to stick to their own kind to avoid the humans finding out about them. In fact, there are specific rules that prevent creatures from being with creatures of opposite kind which is strictly enforced by the Congregation, a group of 12 creatures, 4 from each group.

These rules include forbidding creatures to meddle in human politics or religion and expressly forbids creatures from mating with anything other than their own kind or humans. This means that a vampire and a witch are not allowed to fall in love and get married. For the most part, none of them want to anyway. Creatures just do not like anything other than their own kind because of old habits and prejudices. Diana Bishop and Matthew de Clermont (yes, I realize he goes by many other last names, but that is the true family name) are no exception to the rule. Diana has always been warned that vampires are lethal and untrustworthy, while Matthew’s entire family hates witches and kills them whenever possible!

Diana Bishop is a very powerful witch; or at least she would be if she chose to use her magic. Instead, she has spent her life trying to avoid magic as much as possible and live a simple life teaching history with a focus on alchemy at Yale. Unfortunately for her plans, her life is forever changed when she calls an ancient book called Ashmole 782 from the stacks at the Bodlein library while visiting Oxford. She can tell the book is magical, but doesn’t really care and sends it back into the stacks of the library, much to the dismay of every vampire, witch, and daemon in the vicinity.

Matthew de Clermont is a 1500+ year old vampire who is very aware of his power and family influence. He has spent the last several hundred years searching for Ashmole 782 and will do anything to get it. He is an accomplished scientist though and has a highly respected academic history. When Matthew overhears some witches talking about a witch who called up Ashmole 782, Matthew heads straight for the library to find her!

Diana and Matthew start out with a love-hate relationship. She hates his protective nature, but realizes that sometimes she needs the protection, especially in this new world of creatures that she has spent her entire life avoiding. It’s not just the vampires and daemons that she has to worry about. Even her fellow witches, like Peter Knox, are a huge threat. For his part, Matthew isn’t used to women not doing exactly what he says when he says it, but finds that he loves this woman, more than he ever dreamed was possible. She realizes she loves him as well. This sounds like the perfect love story except for that part where a witch and a vampire aren’t allowed to be together, especially not this witch and this vampire! To try and hide from the Congregation, Diana and Matthew are going to have to go to some extreme lengths that neither is entirely sure will work. At least they have the support of their families and friends.

On Matthew’s side, we meet his mother Ysabeau, who is known as being one of the most ferocious witch hunters throughout the ages! She’s quite a character whose reaction to her son mating with a witch shocks all. Diana meets Marcus and Miriam quite early on at Oxford. They are both Matthew’s assistants at the science lab and both part of the de Clermont family. Miriam definitely doesn’t like Diana from the beginning. She is visibly upset with Matthew from spending so much time with her. Marcus is much more pleasant to Diana. He’s a more laid-back and easy going vampire. On Diana’s side, she has her aunts Sarah and Em (Sarah Bishop and Emily Mather). Aunt Sarah is her mother’s sister and Em is Sarah’s partner. When Diana’s parents died, Em and Sarah took Diana in and raised her. They are wonderful parents to her and are still very supportive even if she is a grown woman.

If I am being perfectly honest, until A Discovery of Witches, I had never before read a Paranormal Romance novel. I’ve read several Romance novels in the past, but I always found them insubstantial and one-dimensional. I (quite wrongly) assumed that Paranormal Romance would be the same. Deborah Harkness has entirely changed my opinion! Her novel is truly magnificent. While yes, it is a romance-type novel, it doesn’t feel like that is the sole purpose of the story. The characters are quite deep and yet feel very true to life. You don’t have a perfect prince who sweeps the princess off of her feet. Instead, you have a very normal human couple (even if they are a vampire and a witch) who have to work through normal feelings and have to really try to keep the relationship working. You also find that you are cheering for them, hoping that everything will work out in the end! A Discovery of Witches ends at a perfect point where you feel like the current book is all wrapped up, but you’re still wanting to know what happens next. Luckily, there are still two more books to cover this amazing world. If you like fantasy novels, you should really go pick up A Discovery of Witches today!

-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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