Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.
Author: Deborah Harkness
Book 1: A Discovery of Witches
Book 2: Shadow of Night
Book 3: The Book of Life
A fantasy book with a heroine who loves libraries and studies history. What more could you want?
Harkness does a great job of keeping the witches/vampires/daemons thing far from cheesy. It took a while to set everything up, but as the story is quite complex, that wasn’t terrible. Plus, I usually find that the second book in any series is my least favorite, but that was absolutely not the case with this trilogy. The second book was invigorating, pulling from deep historical events and spinning a pretty unique type of magic. I’m not usually a historical fiction reader, and I actually disliked history in school, but I did study theatre, so having Christopher Marlowe as a main character was exciting for me. I don’t think you’d have to know much about or like history to love that part of the story.
Diana is a very strong character with plenty of complexity. I was a little surprised at how quickly she fell for tall, dark, and brooding, but as I said, the plot is complex. If Harkness didn’t speed us along to the meaty middle, we’d never get to the end. Matthew is sort of one-sided but definitely grows as the story progresses. And I still can’t decide if he’s super dreamy or just a vampire…
All in all, the series had great, human themes with an engaging plot and unique characters. I highly recommend.