This discovery of witches had me enchanted and engrossed all week long. This is the longest book that I have ever chosen to complete in a week - but it was well worth it. Deborah Harkness is a history professor and wine blogger by day - but she penned this incredible debut novel at night. This novel weaves a tale of witches, vampires, daemons and humans along with history, science and alchemy. That is a lot to introduce in a debut novel and even more to cover in a review. Harkness' skill at character development is one of the best that I have seen in some time. She juggles the cast of characters incredibly well and I never felt that the story was rushed or a character was marginalized.
The story follows Diana Bishop, a professor of alchemical history, who also happens to be a witch. Diana has turned away from her natural witch tendencies and does not use magic (nor does she really know how) in her day to day life. Her parents (very powerful witches) died when she was 7-years-old which added to her desire to turn away from magic. While studying at Oxford she comes across a rare alchemical manuscript (Ashmole 782) that reaches out to her magic! Freaked out she returns the manuscript not knowing that she opened herself up as a target for various and sundry creatures to seek her out.
Matthew Clairmont is a renowned scientist who also happens to be a vampire. He has been searching for Ashmole 782 for many years and when he finds that Diana has discovered it - he seeks her out. What starts as a hunt for the book, turns into protection and eventually love. The adventures that ensue span time and space. They explore relationships with witches, vampires and daemons which are often tense at best. It becomes clearer as the book moves on that all of the creatures may have more in common than was previously thought.
This book combines many of my favorite genres into one...romance-supernatural-adventure-mystery and history. It is like the best mixtape EVER in novel formation! So far this has been one of the best books that I have read in awhile. Harkness has stated this is the first in a trilogy and I am anxiously, anxiously awaiting 2012 when the second book is set to be released. Check this book out to see what I'm talking about!