Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A witch discovers an enchanted manuscript and becomes entangled in a forbidden romance with a vampire.


"A Discovery of Witches" is a captivating novel by Deborah Harkness that seamlessly intertwines the realms of history, romance, and the supernatural. The narrative is set in a world where witches, vampires, and daemons coexist with humans, and follows the story of Diana Bishop, a historian and reluctant witch, and Matthew Clairmont, a captivating geneticist and centuries-old vampire. This enchanting tale takes readers on a mesmerizing journey through time and space, blending elements of fantasy, mystery, and forbidden love.

Brief Synopsis

Plot Overview and Setting

"A Discovery of Witches" is primarily set in the present day, with occasional glimpses into the past. The story unfolds in the vibrant city of Oxford, where Diana Bishop, a brilliant historian and a highly skilled witch, inadvertently discovers a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library. As she delves deeper into the secrets of the manuscript, she attracts the attention of supernatural creatures and becomes entangled in a complex web of ancient prophecies and forbidden love.

Main Events

1-5Diana discovers the enchanted manuscript and meets Matthew Clairmont, a captivating geneticist who is also a vampire. As their paths intertwine, they form an unlikely alliance and unravel the mysteries surrounding the manuscript.
6-10Diana and Matthew's relationship deepens as they seek refuge in Matthew's ancestral home in France. They encounter various supernatural beings and unearth long-buried family secrets.
11-15The couple's bond is tested as they navigate the complexities of their respective supernatural worlds. They face opposition from powerful adversaries and must confront the looming threat of an ancient prophecy.
16-20Diana and Matthew travel through time to Elizabethan England, where they seek the guidance of a renowned alchemist and attempt to locate a powerful witch. Their quest leads them to revelations that could change the course of history.
21-25The couple returns to the present day and confronts a formidable adversary, drawing upon their collective strengths and forming alliances with unexpected allies. The culmination of their journey brings about unforeseen consequences and transforms their lives irrevocably.

Main Characters

Diana Bishop

A talented historian and a reluctant witch, Diana is fiercely independent and possesses a deep-rooted aversion to her magical heritage. Her scholarly pursuits and unwavering determination make her a formidable protagonist.

Matthew Clairmont

A captivating geneticist and a centuries-old vampire, Matthew exudes an air of mystery and sophistication. Despite his commanding presence, he harbors inner conflicts and a tumultuous past that shape his character.

Sarah Bishop

Diana's fiercely protective aunt, Sarah, is a powerful and nurturing witch who serves as a source of guidance and support for her niece. Her unwavering loyalty and wisdom offer invaluable assistance to Diana.

Marcus Whitmore

A loyal and compassionate vampire, Marcus forms a deep bond with Matthew and becomes an integral part of Diana and Matthew's journey. His unwavering loyalty and empathy make him a steadfast ally.

Themes and Insights

Love and Forbidden Romance

The novel delves into the complexities of love and the challenges posed by forbidden romance, particularly in the context of a relationship between a witch and a vampire. It explores the societal and personal barriers that the protagonists must confront in order to pursue their feelings for each other.

Power and Prejudice

The narrative delves into the dynamics of power and prejudice within the supernatural community, highlighting the tensions and hierarchies that exist among witches, vampires, and daemons. It also examines the repercussions of inter-species relationships and the impact of historical animosities.

Destiny and Fulfilling Prophecies

The concept of destiny and the fulfillment of prophecies are central themes in the novel. The characters grapple with the weight of ancient predictions and the implications of their actions on the course of history, leading to moments of profound introspection and decision-making.

Reader's Takeaway

"A Discovery of Witches" offers readers a spellbinding blend of history, romance, and the supernatural, weaving a rich tapestry of characters and settings that transport them to an enchanting world. The novel's exploration of forbidden love, the complexities of power dynamics, and the allure of fulfilling prophecies provides thought-provoking insights that resonate with readers long after they have turned the final page.


Deborah Harkness' "A Discovery of Witches" enthralls readers with its seamless fusion of historical intrigue, supernatural allure, and forbidden romance. The novel's compelling characters, intricate plot, and thematic depth make it a captivating read that leaves a lasting impression. As readers immerse themselves in the enchanting world of witches, vampires, and daemons, they are drawn into a mesmerizing narrative that transcends genres and resonates with timeless themes of love, power, and destiny.

A Discovery of Witches FAQ

  1. What is 'A Discovery of Witches' about?

    A Discovery of Witches is a novel by Deborah Harkness that follows the story of Diana Bishop, a historian and reluctant witch, who discovers an enchanted manuscript at the Bodleian Library. This discovery sets off a chain of events that involve witches, vampires, and daemons, and forces Diana to confront her magical heritage.

  2. Is 'A Discovery of Witches' part of a series?

    Yes, 'A Discovery of Witches' is the first book in the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. The series also includes 'Shadow of Night' and 'The Book of Life'.

  3. What genre is 'A Discovery of Witches'?

    A Discovery of Witches is a blend of fantasy, romance, and historical fiction, with elements of supernatural creatures and magic.

  4. Who would enjoy reading 'A Discovery of Witches'?

    Fans of supernatural fiction, historical settings, and romantic plots would likely enjoy 'A Discovery of Witches'. Additionally, readers who are intrigued by the idea of a hidden world of witches, vampires, and daemons existing alongside our own would find this book captivating.

  5. Is 'A Discovery of Witches' suitable for young readers?

    Due to some mature themes and content, 'A Discovery of Witches' is more suitable for adult readers.