Tag Archives: witchcraft

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (All Souls Trilogy #1)

My favorite book of last year in the paranormal romance genre is A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. The funny thing is, I hated the book when I began reading. The story starts off sounding trite and ridiculous: a witch falls in love with a vampire, there’s a mysterious secret society of creatures out to destroy their love, she has a photographic memory, they’re both really into yoga? Ugh. One of the most irritating and unlikely things we are asked to believe is one that only a current or former academic might recognize: the heroine got tenure at Yale???  That’s almost as ridiculous as the fact that James Franco is currently a doctoral student in their English Department (yes, that one unfortunately is true). Needless to say, the first fifty pages of this book piqued my annoyance rather than my interest…and then something happened. I was swept away by the story, compelled to read late into the night by an increasingly complex and riveting plot.

The book follows the romance blossoming between Diana Bishop, historian and non-practicing witch, and Matthew Clairmont, scientist and vampire, as they navigate increasingly dangerous waters stirred up when Diana manages to call up a bewitched manuscript from the stacks at Oxford’s Bodleian Library. Author Deborah Harkness, an actual historian who teaches European History and the History of Science at UCLA, legitimizes her characters with her extensive history chops, which is one of the reasons why this book stands heads and shoulders above so many other entries into this genre. Harkness hasn’t just “done her homework” in order to write a book; she is quite literally an expert on the subject about which she writes.

But the book’s charm lies outside of whether or not it is historically accurate. Harkness writes with such warmth about her characters that they, for lack of a better term, feel like home. The book really hits its stride in the final third, which takes place in upstate New York, where we meet several of the books most memorable characters.
As it turns out, the book is the first in a planned trilogy (the All Souls Trilogy), so we must all wait together for the next installment of the further adventures of Diana and Matthew.

Why you might love this book: Harkness has crafted a captivating and compelling story that is a pleasure to read.

Why you might not love this book: You have to get through the almost obnoxious introduction of our too perfect heroine. Once you get to know her, she’s really okay, I promise.

Rating: Five out of five black cats.



Publisher: Viking Adult (February 2011)

ISBN-10: 0670022411

ISBN-13: 978-0670022410


Drink Deep by Chloe Neill

I would be lying if I said I hadn’t been waiting for the arrival Drink Deep, the fifth installment of Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampire series since I read all four of the previous books in the series in two days over the summer. I would also be lying if I, like most of Neill’s intelligent readers, weren’t waiting with two specific questions in mind (SPOILER ALERT if you haven’t read the fourth book in the series):

  1. How is Neill going to bring master vampire, love interest, and man candy, Ethan Sullivan, back from the dead?
  2. How many books will it take to do so?

While I am certainly not able to answer these questions in this review, I can tell you that, as readers, we are destined to do some more waiting in this book. We are waiting, endless pages, for Merit to quit mourning Sullivan and get back to being the sassy “Ponytailed Avenger” that has made her one of the leading lights in the paranormal/urban fantasy lit market. We are waiting for Neill to allow her heroine to solve the latest “mystery” offered for this book: this time it is the natural landscape of Chicago that has gone haywire, with lakes turning black and skies turning red. Perhaps most frustrating about all of this waiting is that Neill shows her hand a bit too early in the book, and the reader will have figured out what is causing all the trouble long before the book gets around to revealing it.

All this waiting, however, is not without perks. Merit, even languishing in grief, is better than no Merit at all, and there are a number of entertaining side plots to keep us entertained. Moreover, Neill leaves the reader with a satisfying ending with a big enough cliffhanger that this reader will definitely be coming back for the next installment.

Why you might love this book: In a word: Merit. Also, you knew you were going to read it anyway!
Why you might not love this book: Neill has dug herself a bit of a hole here, as this book has to stand next to the other books in the series, and it just doesn’t have quite the same sass and style as its predecessors.

Rating: Three out of five black cats.

Publisher: Penguin USA

ISBN: 9780451234865