Blog Post / fall 2015 / Literary Blogs

Magic Reality: A Discovery of Witches

Introducing… What We Read Wednesday!


I was recommended a few novels to read over the summer by my writing professor, Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife (enjoyable, but I had the plot twists somewhat ruined since I’d seen the movie in my high school years) and Deborah Harkness’s, A Discovery of Witches. A Discovery of Witches caught my attention more than The Time Traveler’s Wife from the start and, after only getting in a hundred pages before having to return it to my local library, I got my hands on a copy of my own.

From the start, Harkness creates a believable, breathing world.  I was readily immersed and invested. The main character, a heroine by the name of Diana Bishop, is painted as a strong, independent woman who is well-versed in her craft, the study of ancient manuscripts. As the novel’s title hints, she is a descendent of a powerful lineage of witches, but she has turned her back on magic and the world of the arcane since she was young.

The plot opens on Diana at work in the Bodleian Library of Oxford, researching alchemy manuscripts for an upcoming conference. She receives an extra manuscript mixed in with her others she had called for, and curious, opens it up, releasing an ancient spell. This sets in motion a series of events that has the entire hidden world of magic descending upon her, and she sets out on an adventure to learn the secrets of this manuscript accompanied by a vampire with his own set of mysteries and secrets.

On a whole, the book was delightful. My only complaint lies in the last fourth of the novel  The main plot begins to dissolve into a series of smaller plots and, though tied up again at the end, this split is a tad jarring.

Nevertheless, if you were a fan of Harry Potter or want some real-life magic, I recommend!

By Ariel Crego

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