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  • Beatrice Iker

The Book That Made Me: Remember What I Love

Updated: Nov 29, 2020

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. This book, largely, is about a woman with magic. This is where I will begin.

Diana Bishop, the main character in ADOW, is from a long line of witches; one of her ancestors burned in Salem. Throughout the book – and the entire series – ancestry is of dear importance. I connected with this, as genealogy is a passion of mine. After reading this book, I looked further into my own ancestry, flipping through census’, marriage and death certificates, and military documents from the 19th century.

I picked up ADOW in the winter of 2015. I had just moved across the country and gotten a new library card. I was looking for a book about magic. Now, I was getting a book about magic and a book about the importance of genealogy: it was like it was written just for me.

ADOW, to me, is a mix of literary writing, found and blood family, and history. The history in the book is also what drew me to it. I recently went back to school to study history, and I believe ADOW was a contributing factor. I’ve always loved history (my favorite thing to learn about is medieval theology), but Harkness made history come alive on the page.

In the second book, the characters travel to the past, during a time almost perfectly coinciding with my specific historic interests. There were just too many coincidences. I was supposed to read this book.

I am not at all being dramatic when I say this book changed my life. Through the book I found a podcast dedicated to the book’s universe (it’s called Daemon’s Discuss, I highly recommend). This podcast has helped distract and entertain me during times when my mental illnesses had gotten difficult to handle. The books also restored my love of genealogy and my craving to learn more about history.

I owe a debt to A Discovery of Witches, for being something I wholeheartedly connected with during a time when I needed it.

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