A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches in the first book  in the proposed “All Souls Trilogy”, and it makes for an excellent beginning.  In Harkness’ creation, our world is composed of four types of beings; witches, vampires, daemons and humans.  At one point in time, there was a balance between these forces but slowly humans have become dominate and the other lifeforms are beginning to fade as genetic abnormalities are preventing reproduction, causing illness or driving the creatures mad.

Into this comes Diana Bishop, the last of the “famous” Bishop witches. Diana has rejected her heritage and chosen to live as an average human.  Her life changes while doing research at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, when she asks for a title from their archives and receives a lost manuscript that contains the power to control the power balance between all the races, a book that is specially keyed to her.  She is suddenly in danger from daemons, vampires and even other witches who crave the power of the book for themselves.

The activation of the book is like a clarion call to those of the supernatural.  One of those summoned is Matthew Clairmont, a centuries old vampire,  a geneticist, who is studying the changes that are occurring in each of the races.  Matthew attempts to protect and help Diana as they search for the meanings behind the book. Diana’s witchcraft is amazingly strong but untrained, making her a danger to herself but a threat to those who want to take her power in order to control  the book.  As the first in the series, it casts out many plot threads and I look forward to the answers in the upcoming books.

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