A Discovery of Witches is somewhat of a hard book to define. The best that I can do is take the author’s words and say that it’s a book about books.
Diana Bishop is a witch from a very long line of distinguished witches but, since the death of her parents when she was a child, has effectively renounced her heritage and devoted herself to being as normal as possible, pursing a doctorate and a career in history.
All appears to be going well until she comes across a tome that refuses to open until it knows her. From then on she seems to be under constant watch from other witches, vampires and daemons which is distracting her from her research in an Oxford library. Even more distracting is the attention of Professor Matthew Clairmont who, as it happens, is also a vampire.
A Discovery of Witches is a very detailed and descriptive book and it’s easy to picture what’s going on at every moment. As such, it’s also quite lengthy as the story travels from Oxford, England to Sept-Tours, France and upstate New York back to Diana’s old home.
The characters are wonderful, and like Diana, there’s no real sense of who to trust at first but it’s not long before allies and enemies are made and battle lines drawn. Diana’s aunts; Sarah and Emily, their cat; Tabitha and the vampires Miriam and Ysabeau were easily amongst my favourite. The Bishop house is also a wonderful character itself.
However, despite being a great story, it loses a mark primarily because of Matthew. Whilst attempting to be an alpha male, he’s clearly. He comes across as just domineering and he is very suffocating of Diana who must apparently do as he says. The why though is not fully justified other than the fact that he is strong and fast but this is countered by the fact that Diana is instinctively the most powerful witch ever seen for a very long time.
Not only that, but whilst Diana is an incredibly powerful witch, she is also very intelligent and wilful but this seems to go out the window when Matthew stamps his foot.
Finally, I thought it distasteful with how he acts at times such as breaking into Diana’s rooms at Oxford, drugging her with his blood, oh and killing a witch because she delivered a picture, albeit an horrific one, but a picture nonetheless. Whilst Diana protests all this, she again lets it go far too easily for her character.
As for the story itself, whilst it travels around collecting various characters, it doesn’t actually go anywhere much. Whilst it doesn’t end on a cliff hanger per se nothing is really resolved. As it stands, whilst I did enjoy it, I don’t know at this stage if I’ll get the second in the trilogy.