Discover this historical novel

Antonia Villalon, Broadcast Editor

“A Discovery of Witches” is a historical fiction novel written by historical writer, wine enthusiast and University of Southern California instructor Deborah Harkness. The novel is about Diana Bishop, a witch in denial about who she is and a 1500-year-old vampire known by the name of Mathew Clairmont. These two characters’ worlds collide when Bishop innocently comes across an old, missing manuscript that many creatures have spent their entire lives in search of.

Deborah Harknes’ writing first drew me in when I came across her novel in an airport, which also happens to be how her novel got started and continues to gain popularity.

Once I started I couldn’t put her book down and when the last page was complete I had to immediately jump on my computer to see if she was ever going to write a follow up. To my relief she was already in works on a planned trilogy.

The thing that really entraps my imagination with her fictional works are the amount of detail Harkness puts into her stories. Harkness keeps the whole world of the story in line with possible historical moments in history. She moves the story along at a relentless pace, as we learn about each character.

She shares these characters’ stories within the overall story of the novel, adding to the realistic feel of this fantasy.

While her trilogy is purely a fictional book, Harkness uses elements of real historical people; knowledge from her studies of alchemy, historical science and medicine; the occult and of places she’s been. The combination of these elements make reading A Discovery of Witches feel like the descriptions are almost second nature for her and easy for the reader’s imagination to splurge.

The Bodleian Library, for example, is where Harkness worked while she went to Oxford, and the lost alchemy book in the novel, Ashmole 782, is real, written by Elisa Ashmole in the 1600’s.

I have always liked fictional novels but the way that Harkness has tied all these actual facts, historical events, locations and un-explained historical theories or objects into a world all its own is absolutely fascinating. The fact that she is a legitimate and renowned historian who has traveled and studied the places she describes makes it that much more an enveloping read.