Deborah Harkness, A Discovery of Witches
Twilight for grownups — but better
Deborah Harkness’s A Discovery of Witches is not exactly Twlight for grownups — it’s better. Comparisons to that blockbuster series are hard to ignore; yes, there are vampires, and yes, there are star-crossed lovers and a ruling cabal that wants to keep them apart, but Witches also throws in Oxford University, genetic crossbreeding, demons, alchemy, and, well… witches.
Harkness’s protagonist, Diana Bishop, is a powerful witch through her mother’s genealogy, but her interests are in academia. She shuns her powers until she’s presented with an ancient alchemical manuscript that responds to her touch. Mere possession of the book opens her up to scrutiny by the vampires who inhabit Oxford’s Bodleian Library. One in particular, Matthew Clairmont, a tall, handsome, 1500-year-old neuroscientist and biochemist (who, it must be said, bears more than a passing resemblance to Twilight‘s Edward Cullen), takes a liking to Diana. However, relations between witches and vampires are strictly forbidden by an international cabal of supernatural beings, and Diana’s newfound ownership of the manuscript puts a price on her head, leading to an all-out sprint for answers that can only be found somewhere between Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, and magic spells.
With the world hanging in the balance, Harkness doesn’t skimp on levity. Her demons are thoroughly modern. They drop the odd reference to pop culture — albeit the kind of pop culture the History Channel specializes in (“Didn’t we watch a television program about the Crusades that had an order of knights in it?” is a typical girls-night conversation here), and they’re also yoga nuts. They just happen to be yoga nuts who can levitate.