Book review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness 

On social media the trailer of an upcoming Sky 1 series is being shared based on the novel A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. It looks good with drama, fantasy, action and magic so it must be time to catch up with the book.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

 

Book review: A Discovery of Witches
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

 

Title: A Discovery of Witches

Author: Deborah Harkness

Genre: Fiction, fantasy, paranormal

Publisher: Headline

Release Date: 29th September 2011

Blurb

The phenomenal international bestseller and the first volume in the enthralling All SOULS trilogy, preceding SHADOW OF NIGHT and THE BOOK OF LIFE.

It begins with absence and desire. It begins with blood and fear. It begins with a discovery of witches.

When historian Diana Bishop opens an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it’s an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life. Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent death of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft. Now Diana has unwittingly exposed herself to a world she’s kept at bay for years; one of powerful witches, creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires. Sensing the significance of Diana’s discovery, the creatures gather in Oxford, among them the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire geneticist. Diana is inexplicably drawn to Matthew and, in a shadowy world of half-truths and old enmities, ties herself to him without fully understanding the ancient line they are crossing. As they begin to unlock the secrets of the manuscript and their feelings for each other deepen, so the fragile balance of peace unravels…

My Thoughts

This is the first book in the All Souls trilogy and my favourite of the series. From the moment Deborah Harkness transported me to the Bodleian library with Diana Bishop I was hooked.  I could not resist; this book has always the elements   I love – old dusty books, libraries and magic bundled together with descriptive pose and intriguing characters. Lots of characters to discover and love besides the main characters, Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont. There are the witches including Emily and Sarah, the extensive vampire family including Miriam, Marcus, Ysabeau and Marthe and deamons especially Hamish. They all have depth and stories beyond this series.

Diana is a character who grew as her back story was revealed throughout the book. As a witch who loves research into the history of alchemy I longed to see the imagery she was seeing in the old manuscripts. Matthew Clairmont has all the element you would expect of a fictional vampire – wealthy, unrealistically handsome, tall and strong with overprotective tendencies but he is grounded by his flaws. They make him more realistic. His back story and secrets add to the depth of character. I found it refreshing that the relationship between him and Diana was more balanced than many vampire stories. She is not your usual damsel in distress.

This a mature paranormal novel with a wonderful blend of unique characters, history, science, location and description to form an epic adventure involving romance, fear and drama. Deborah Harkness has not just created a story for Diana and Matthew she has created a world to explore so it feels as if any character could easily have their own novel. Long after I put the book down my mind would drift back to the plot and characters.

Would I recommend?

Oh yes! I love this book and is in my top 10 favourite books and is on my forever shelf. With the upcoming TV programme I predict it will go wild with discissions. As with all book versus film debates it is worth a read before the programme release. Have you read it and let me know what you think below.

Thank you NetGalley and Headline for the opportunity to read a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

Happy reading!

 

A dream come true: Book Towns by Alex Johnson

I love books. I adore book shops and one of my top things to do on my bucket list was to visit Hay-on-Wye in Wales. That was until I read Book Towns: forty-five paradises of the printed word by Alex Johnson.

Book Towns: forty-five paradises of the printed word

 

Book review for Book Towns
Book Towns: forty-five paradises of the printed word by Alex Johnson

 

Title: Book Towns: forty-five paradises of the printed word

Author: Alex Johnson

Genre: Travel, literature

Publisher: Quarto Publishing Group

Release Date: 22nd March 2018

Blurb

The so-called “Book Towns” of the world are dedicated havens of literature, and the ultimate dream of book lovers everywhere. Book Towns takes readers on a richly illustrated tour of the 40 semi-officially recognized literary towns around the world and outlines the history and development of each community, and offers practical travel advice.

Many Book Towns have emerged in areas of marked attraction, such as Ureña in Spain or Fjaerland in Norway, where bookshops have been set up in buildings including former ferry waiting rooms and banks. While the UK has the best-known examples at Hay, Wigtown and Sedbergh, the book has a broad international appeal, featuring locations such as Jimbochu in Japan, College Street in Calcutta, and major unofficial “book cities” such as Buenos Aires.

My Thoughts

Despite its unassuming and slightly uninspiring cover, this is a wonderful coffee table book. It showcases Book Towns around the world to explore, drool and fantasize over so is perfect to look at while you or visitors are having a cup of tea or coffee.  If like me, you don’t know what book towns are they are towns dedicated to literature with book shops, festivals and history. They are bibliophiles’ dream locations. This non-fiction book covers over 40 of them and inspires with it’s stunning photographs, simple format and descriptions. It made me want to be there to experience the shops, smell the books and browse the endless bookshelves for the perfect book or two or three. I would love to visit them all especially Hay-on-Wye, Sedbergh and Wigtown as they are in the UK but I long to travel to Fjaerland in Norway. If I won the lottery I would go on a worldwide tour ticking them off one by one. It would take me to:

  • France
  • Norway
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Belgium
  • Austrailia
  • New Zealand
  • USA
  • Portugal
  • South Korea
  • South Africa
  • And more

Would I recommend?

It is an ideal addition to a bookcase and would make a lovely gift for book lovers and travellers. I long for a physical copy to treasure and dream over.

Now where is my passport?

Travelling adventures with books

Thank you NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group – Frances Lincoln for an advanced copy to review in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. You have made this book dragon very happy.

Book dragon ready to fight for #SaveQuickReads

Have you been to a book town? I would love to hear your experiences.

Love