Review: A Discovery of Witches
Title: A Discovery of Witches
Author: Deborah Harkness
Review Source: Purchased at Barnes and Noble
Back of Book Synopsis (from barnesandnoble.com):
A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.
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.
Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.
I kind of have an addictive personality when it comes to reading. I don’t like putting down a book once I start it and A Discovery of Witches was one of those. Most of the time, I am at least aware of my surroundings and will put a book down if I have to. I started this book at like 11:30pm after finishing another book. I was like “I just want to read a couple of chapters, that’s it”, well it wasn’t because the next time I looked at the clock, it was 8:30am and I was finished with the book. Oops! Deborah Harkness did a really good job of setting up the world of the novel. She used very evocative imagery that put me into the scene with the characters but that was really what this novel was, a setting the scene for the next book in the series so we got a lot of info and not a lot of plot. I mean, a lot happens but nothing is resolved because of the subsequent novels, which left me feeling a little irritated and like I was missing something. (Well, that was probably the intended feeling because now I definitely have to read the next in the series.)
Her prose style was very decadent and it really set up the atmosphere of the story really well. There were a lot of areas of the book that could have been pared down because she really did have a lot of information and descriptions but by keeping them, the prose style reflected the all-encompassing arch of the story. (We are getting past, present, and future all wrapped up into one.)
For any of you who have read my other reviews, you know that I read for the connections to the characters, so in this aspect I was kind of disappointed. Because she spent a lot of time setting the scene for the series as a whole, she left out a lot of the character development (because obviously the characters have a whole series worth of time to grow.)
Dianna was also a little disappointing. She started out as a strong and independent woman but as soon as she meets Matthew (her vampire lover) she becomes the clichéd damsel in distress who needs to be protected by her vampire lover. She is a very powerful witch so she should not need him to protect her. The relationship between Dianna and Matthew was a little too twilightish for me. They have only known each other for a few weeks at the most but they are obsessed with each other and Matthew is so overprotective of her. I have to say I am a little sick of this rut that paranormal stories are getting stuck in. I mean, I know they bring a lot of money but it is getting to be too predictable.
I did love the supporting characters a lot. The Bishop house was such a great character as well as Dianna’s aunts, Emily and Sarah. I really hope they get bigger roles in the subsequent novels.
I know it sounds like I did not like the book, but that is so not the case. I really enjoyed it. It was an absorbing book and I really look forward to the next one in the series!
I would recommend this book to anyone who like historical and paranormal novels, as well as those who love family saga stories and of course the Twilight series. This book kind of reminded me a little bit of Circle Trilogy by Nora Roberts although less erotic. (I’d recommend those books as well)
I give it *****