This is an odd book Now that I have finished reading it, I m not sure why I was so enad of it With so much discussion of spells and enchantment, I wouldn t be surprised if the book put a spell on me Despite overall enjoying the book, there are still lots of things about it that irritated me First, the author needed a better editor I am finding often that books surrounded by a certain amount of hype are not well edited I don t know if the editors think that every word the author writes is gold or if editors are timid, but in either case they aren t doing their job Much of this book could have chopped out and the story tightened up There are too many extraneous details that weigh down the plot and what exactly the plot is is also a good question I think the author, in order to differentiate her witch vampire supernatural book from all the other supernatural books on the shelves, threw in everything, including the kitchen sink, into her novel It s exhausting stumbling around the pages trying to figure out what the plot is I m going to try not being too specific because even though nothing really happens in this novel really, nothing does , there is information that shouldn t be divulged until you read the novel Harkness has several plot lines going the mysterious Ashmole 782 manuscript, the forbidden love affair between Diana the relunctant witch and Matthew the 1,000 years old vamp, the mysterious death of her parents, the possible extinction of the supernatural beings, the Congregation wanting to know the extent of Diana s power, tracing Diana s DNA, and the threat of a witch vamp war It s all a little crazy This book is some kind of pseudo science, pseudo historical novel what with all the science and history The excessive alchemical details get annoying, as does the DNA discussions and you d better know what mtDNA is because I don t think the book does a good job explaining it Luckily, I knew However, unlike the alchemy stuff which I don t see the point of , at least the DNA information is related to the plot s of the book The romance is fairly interesting and intense at first, but it quickly peters out into some of kind of tame, boring, lovey dovey PG rated sappy mess It s not that I need pornographic details, but the author kept telling me how much they loved each other and how intense their passion was, but I never really felt it Matthew, as a scary vampire, is a huge disappointment to me I m sorry,but you cannot have this vampire doing yoga and talking DNA with new age geeky precision and then have me believe that he is all that scary Nope, just doesn t work Diana is also a disappointment She s extremely annoying She talks about how she wants to be a strong, independent woman, but in reality she is the wimpiest, most annoying witch ever She won t use her witchy powers which, to give the author some credit, I understand why she had this attitude , but when it comes time for her to protect herself, she wimps out, cowers, faints, and in rushes Matthew to save her AGAIN Give me a break The book is basically just a description of food, wine, her stretchy black pants and all the places Matthew took her to keep her hidden from the Congregation I don t like the term Congregation either Makes me think of church and not a scary group of supernatural beings Apparently this book was compared to the Twilight series, which I think odd because I never saw the connection I have read them all, to my shame What I will compare this book to is the Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse series Those books are far superior to this book Sookie is poor little human with just her one skill she can read minds and yet she protects herself quite well, rarely needs her supernatural friends to come to her rescue, and has several times saved her vampire boyfriends Plus, she does it all with a sense of humor Diana, who apparently has every witchy powerever known, plus some that aren t, can barely twinkle her nose to make magical tea Another point of irritation with me are all the characters who need their backstories told I don t really need to know or want to know everything about these characters If they are going to stick around for awhile, tell me their stories later or create a glossary and stick them at the back of the book The flow of the novel is stopped over and over again to tell me something not all that interesting about a minor character My last point is about this ridiculous Knights of Lazarus organization I find this organization absolutely unbelievable and incomprehensible I m not giving away any plot secrets by mentioning this because I still can t figure out what the author meant by creating this order of do gooder vamps who have helped people in need over the centuries It s so ridiculous Whenever it was brought up, I tried to skim over it, hoping it would disappear The haunted Bishop house, the house as a character, was entertaining I did enjoy that detail Overall though, now that I ve written this review, I m trying to figure out what exactly I DID like about the book This book basically sets up the next two books in the trilogy I will probably read the second book but I doubt I will buy it I think Harkness, just as with Justin Cronin of The Passage, saw an opportunity to make some money on the current and lasting way too long vampire, witch, supernatural creatures popular literature fad However,Harkness has taken vampires and turned them into wine loving, gentle, kind creatures who wear business suits or lab coats, have tons of money, and are really kind of boring. This book kept me hanging on just enough to stop me from abandoning it I m not really sure who this book is aimed at it s a very pedestrian, traditional romance wrapped up in a nearly 600 page, painfully slow tale filled with history and science It s a bit like a Hallmark card wrapped up in an encyclopedia The history and science buffs will be turned off by the cheesy center, and the romance lovers will resent having to wade through pages of endless description and detail just to get to the good stuff And speaking of the good stuff there isn t any If I am going to struggle my way through a sappy romance, the least I would expect is a good sex scene The female lead is Diana, who is a highly intelligent woman and well respected in her field She s also the daughter of two powerful witches who were murdered when she was seven years old Traumatized by their deaths, she turns her back on magic and devotes her life to study When she accidentally pulls a heavily enchanted manuscript from the Bodleian library and is somehow able to open it, she draws the attention of the supernatural communities Matthew, a biochemist vampire with many secrets and motivations of his own, seeks out Diana to investigate.Probably the main thing that turns me off about this book is the cast of characters Matthew will be startlingly familiar to any reader of paranormal romance He s a perfect physical specimen, with vast wealth including several ancient homes which he built himself , a guilt inducing past, and a tendency to be an overly protective, patronizing control freak He also likes to name drop famous historical figures that he s known, drone on and on about wine, and spout obnoxious lines like, Will you never wait until I help you And, despite being alive for 1,500 years, he apparently still thinks that women are incapable of feeding and clothing themselves or knowing when they re tired Don t worry, he ll give you sedatives without your knowledge if you try to disagree He s the kind of guy who says, I might not be able to control myself if you step away after a first kiss, then spends the rest of the book avoiding consummating the relationship, because there s plenty of time even though at this point the characters have view spoiler gotten married and both nearly died hide spoiler okay, so the good things I liked the world mythology etc, and was amused by the Anne Rice reference And I also liked the subtle pro gay marriage message It could have actually been a lot of fun except for the romance part, which went like this SPOILERS Diana I am exceptionally good at being a historian of science, and I even have a job at Yale I am also a witch, but I don t use my powers Much.Gosh this mysterious manuscript sure is mysterious Matthew I AM TALL I WENT THROUGH YOUR PAPERS AND THEN CAME TO YOUR HOUSE AND WATCHED YOU SLEEP.ALSO, I M AN ANCIENT VAMPIRE.Diana Um, okay Matthew SAY WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO SOME VAMPIRE YOGA WITH ME THAT IS NOT A EUPHEMISM, BY THE WAY.Diana I guess so I could do that after I go rowing and then run several miles.Matthew I HAVE A LOT OF USEFUL INFORMATION THAT I M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU ALSO, YOU SMELL AMAZING I CAN BARELY CONTROL MYSELF WHEN YOU RE AROUND.Diana Oh well, I m sure it s fine.Matthew I FORBID YOU TO DO VARIOUS THINGS.ALSO, YOUR LIFE IS IN DANGER SO WE RE GOING TO VISIT MY MOM IN FRANCE DID I MENTION I M FRENCH Diana Hey, for serious you can t just tell me what to do all the time.Matthew I AM COLDLY FURIOUS.ALSO, IT MAKES ME SAD WHEN YOU DISOBEY ME AND I HATE BEING SAD.YOU KNOW WHAT, I WAS SAD ONCE A THOUSAND YEARS AGO AND THEN I KILLED A BUNCH OF PEOPLE AND THEN IT HAPPENED THIS OTHER TIME AND I KILLED MY LOVER, JUST SO YOU KNOW.Diana Oh, right Silly me So wilful Anyway, should we have sex now Matthew WHAT WHY WOULD WE DO THAT Matthew OH BY THE WAY THIS IS MY HOUSEKEEPER SHE IS ALSO AN ANCIENT VAMPIRE, BUT FOR SOME REASON I GUESS SHE LIKES KEEPING HOUSE.Housekeeper Oh hi, here is some herbal tea Make sure to drink it every day, and DON T MAKE ANY MISTAKES WHEN YOU BREW IT Um, because it might taste bad, not that it s having any effect on you without your knowledge OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT.Diana Gosh, thanks Everyone is so nice here Matthew YOUR EYES ARE LIKE STARLIGHT NOWDiana I love you Matthew HANG ON, I NEED TO GO BACK TO ENGLAND FOR SOMETHING.Matthew I AM BACK FROM ENGLAND I LOVE YOU Diana I feel our souls are as one These few short weeks have shown me that you are my one true love Matthew OH HEY DID I MENTION, YOU KNOW THAT TIME I KISSED YOU IN FRONT OF MY MOM WELL THAT MEANS WE RE MARRIED.Diana Actually you did not mention that But does this mean we can have sex Matthew HAHAHAHA DON T BE SILLY Matthew OH AND ANOTHER THING, THERE IS THIS COMPACT OR SOMETHING THAT SAYS WITCHES AND VAMPIRES CANNOT MARRY SO THERE ARE A BUNCH MORE PEOPLE TRYING TO KILL US Diana WhatMatthew OH YEAH TOTALLY BUT DON T WORRY BECAUSE IT TURNS OUT YOU ARE THE MOST MAGICAL OF ALL THE WITCHES Diana Yeah except my powers are all repressed, anyway I m just going to go outside for a second and I m sure I won t get kidnapped and tortured or anything.Matthew I WILL KILL EVERYONE AND SUMMON THE SECRET BROTHERHOOD OF ANCIENT SECRET KNIGHTS Matthew s mom and housekeeper Wow, calm down.Matthew OKAY I WILL JUST KILL THIS ONE LADY THEN.Diana Yay, I learned to fly I 3 you Matthew I am so lucky to be your bride Let s go visit my aunt in America Did I tell you I m from America Anyway, let s have some sex Woo Matthew I DON T KNOW WHAT YOU RE TALKING ABOUT.Aunt Why are you drinking contraceptive tea Diana I have no idea Not because of all the sex I m having, that s for sure.Matthew WHAT I WILL KILL YOU, HOUSEKEEPER Diana Never mind, we have to go to the past and do something about that mysterious manuscript Did I mention I loooove you Matthew SPEAKING OF WHICH, CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE WAS TOTALLY IN LOVE WITH ME WE SHOULD GO SAY HI.Diana I see So is that why we can t have sex Matthew WHAT NO IT S BECAUSE OF THE PURITY AND SPECIALNESS Matthew ALSO, HAVE I MENTIONED HOW YOU HAVE ALLLLL OF THE WITCH POWERS YOU ARE THE BEST WITCH OF ALL TIME Diana I love you THE END Sorry Bronze Horseman, A Discovery of Witches has taken the 2 spot for my favorite book 3 It s quite difficult to gather my thoughts well enough to manage a review I don t know how or where to begin.I started this book 4 evenings ago, and all I really knew about it was that it was a Witches and Vampires book Fine, I ll give that a go As the pages wore on, however, I realized that I was barely making any headway on the % counter Upon checking, I then found that this book is almost 800 pages long, which is than almost all of my fantasy DTB s Wow.I started reading this book just after midnight, thinking I might see how it started before I got some sleep I think it was somewhere around the 3 5% mark that I noticed that even though I was tired I did not want to stop reading So not stop is what I did I just kept on reading for 7 hours straight, until my alarm went off and tried to wake me Oops, I d forgotten to sleep It has been a very long time since I have read a book that so captivated me and enthralled me From those early 3 5% it just starts building and building and grabbing a hold of you, refusing to let go.I ve read the book, now, in four long sittings, and the only reason I didn t read it all in one sitting is because my body couldn t handle it and I needed to work.I will not go too much into the actual contents of the book, since experiencing it all was a pleasure I wish all of you to experience unblemished by my spoilers.That being said, this is a paranormal romance story, which should on it s own turn me flying as fast and far away as I could muster my body, but it is so beautifully crafted and the romance is so mild , that it wasn t a bother at all Quite to the contrary, the romance is the glue that keeps the story going.There are some faults with the book, for sure, but it s still such an excellent book that the good outweighs the bad THIS IS ACTUALLY ZERO stars, but it won t be listed if I put zero, so, just so you know ZERO.I thought this was going to be a really entertaining read, but I m giving up The main character makes no sense, whatsoever We re told that she isn t able to do magic and then she does magic Huh And then we have the vampire sneaking in her window and watching her sleep, fascinated by her sleeping Where have I read this before Let s see can anyone think of where they might have read this Anyone I don t care that she glows when she sleeps I already know it s because it s linked to her ignoring her magic or because it s trapped inside her or because she s simply too cheap to buy a nightlight yes, I made that last one up , but I m not really intrigued enough to find out What I ve learned thus far is that the author is very proud of her knowledge of Oxford and the library there I could have used far less information about walking around the town, where she goes rowing, where she s sitting in the library for gosh sakes and other unimportant minutiae I got this book before it was listed as part of a trilogy BEWARE, series alert I might have found the energy to finish this one off, but I can t imagine reading three books like this one Nope, not gonna do it.Fifty pages That s it Thank you and good night Had to create a brand new shelf for this one books i choose not to finish On the positive side, I VE DONE IT I ve actually stopped reading a book that I felt was a waste of time I didn t think I would, but I did it Yes, I know it s a small thing to celebrate, but I m going to do my happy dance anyway For mere two bucks I rescued this book from a dusty shelf of a local Goodwill store, adopting it with high hopes For free, I returned it to the same shelf a few weeks later with dejected feeling, sandwiching it between a rejected copy of Twilight and a tattered paperback with a shirtless guy on the cover.At least it found its rightful spot And I m out only two dollars And I would have gladly paid to free my own bookshelf of this book.So it goes My books mercilessly rejected the intruder The appeal of it besides the beautiful cover deceptive in its alluring elegance of royal blue was the introduction of a supposedly adult professional accomplished heroine, a history professor to boot, who allows us to take a fresh new look at supernatural occurrences rooted in history and in a book written by a historian, too No sappy teen romance, no supernatural entities masking as high school bad boys, no helpless heroines in need of rescue as Diana, the protagonist, is supposedly from a strong magical line herself The reality of it was a book that many characterized as Twilight for adults, which is an uncannily accurate description We have a whiny insecure heroine her personality is roughly that of a wet dishrag who nevertheless is treated like a special snowflake for no reason whatsoever, who falls head over heels over the first remotely hot and mind bogglingly rich vampire who a doesn t really need to drink blood, b has an insane amount of protectiveness which really boils down to stalking and over macho patriarchalism, c is hauntingly tortured by his dark past, and d is an intolerable self centered rage prone jerkass Before my brain explodes with distaste, here is a brief list of things that are NOT sexy or attractive stalking, kidnapping, drugging an unsuspecting person, patronizing, condescension, snobbery, uncontrollable anger, murderous tendencies, codependency, and neverending smug name dropping.Here is a brief list of things that do not have to happen when heroine falls in love helplessness, fully surrendering control, dramatic drop in intelligence, sudden childishness, unexplained neverending sniffing of the male love interest, need to be constantly rescued, codependency, and propensity for irrational acts.Please feel free to add to any of the lists above.The plot unfolds at a snail pace, getting easily distracted by an endless tedious repetition of any trite details of the characters lives wardrobe, meals, tea, lovestruck gazing, enough wine to call an impromptu Alcoholics Anonymous meeting , endless hours in the library, tea, lovestruck gazing, athletic activities, wine, food, tea, wardrobe, lovestruck gazing, repetitive description of basically EVERYTHING in almost a diary style, padding the meager plot to an impressive doorstopper size of the finished product Actually, maybe consuming wine in the quantities described in this book would have helped with the boredom.On the other thought, wine tends to make me sleepy So does this book It would have been quite a snoozefest combo Not to mention the absolutely ridiculous amount of page space given to an inter species yoga session Could have been worse, I suppose it could have been vampire baseball Or vampire cross stitching, for all the excitement it brings.Because of such insane repetitive padding of the tiny meager plot lines, the sizable book comes to an end right as real plot is about to start unfolding Basically, it ends at the point where most self respecting books would start but of course, those self respecting books would not have subjected the reader to such a hefty amount of tedious, superfluous detail to wonder whether the author was paid per word written.In a nutshell, this book was boring and unoriginal, needlessly long and devoid of any exciting plot, full of filler exposition, and perpetuating ridiculous ideas about the roles of male and female love interests Shame that such a dreck gets such a lovely cover 1 star An interesting thing I observed something I haven t seen on Goodreads yet when I try to look up the quotes for this book, that s what I see Quotes Not AvailableDeborah Harkness has requested that her work not be excerpted or shared on Goodreads We are complying with her request and have removed all her quotes To see the DMCA takedown, please click here.I wonder if the slew of negative reviews is in any way responsible for this silliness. 2.5 starsHmmm At first, I really thought this was going to be at least a 4 star book It was interesting and full of detail Then suddenly, it wasn t Wasn t interesting, that is Oh, it was still full of detail, don t worry Details about how they appreciatively sniffed wine.Details about different kinds of tea.Details about the layouts of old buildings.Details about rugs and furniture.And just when I started to think I couldn t take it anyMORE WINE AND TEA Yes, yes I get it She likes tea He likes wine After 400 pages I don t give a shit what it smelled like Enough already deep breath Toward the end, the story picked up a bit and started moving forward again But it was too little, too late Wait Let me rephrase that, it was too much, too late Suddenly there were huge info dumps, which would have been great had they been spaced out over the entire book Everything that should have been happening discovered talked about in the middle of the book cause it was tea time was crunched into the last part of the story.It looks like this is a trilogy, but I seriously doubt I m going to attempt to read any of these It looks like the author did a lot of research to bring this book to life, but it just wasn t for me.I d recommend this to someone who enjoys slow paced books with a lot of attention to detail. 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. HOLY FREAKING CRAP I just finished this book last night, and I was blown away by it This is easily going to be the best book that I will read this year, and is going in my top 10 list of best fiction books of all time Excellent fiction is not always easy to come by I don t mind mediocre reads from time to time, but it is SO GREAT to be totally stunned by an indescribably excellent book every once in awhile For one thing, this book is so well written The author has a beautiful way with words, and her descriptions are eloquent and lovely There was a seamless flow to this book that was exquisite Nothing was choppy or out of place the rhythm, pacing, and phrases used flowed so effortlessly that I was never distracted by the writing or the language as sometimes happens in fiction Because of this, I was able to get completely lost in this world and boy was I Spellbound is the only proper way to describe it Also, the characters were strong and interesting Knowing that this is the first in what is supposed to be a trilogy, you get a good base understanding of the main and supporting characters with the full knowledge that a deeper relationship with them will come as the story continues to unfold I have read a few reviews that say the beginning of this book is boring I did not find it so I was instantly mesmerized and drawn in I knew that the author was setting the stage for all that was to come, and while it may seem slow at first, you will be very grateful as you continue in the book Once I got into the thick of things, I was grateful to have waded through the beginning, as it gave me a strong foundation for all of the character developments and plot twists that arose throughout the story.MY ONLY COMPLAINT Now I have to wait for the next book However will I do that I tend to get very emotionally involved with books and characters that I love I already miss spending time with these characters and I am desperate to continue living in their magical world Dear Ms Harkness, I am under your spell, please put me out of my misery and publish the next installment soon June 30, 2018 UPDATE Since I first read this book and posted the above review, I have read the book 23 times I literally NEVER get tired of it September 24, 2018 UPDATE Finished my 24th re read.