Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches
Deborah Harkness
Series: All Souls Trilogy, #1
Release Date: February 8th, 2011
Publisher: Viking Adult
Number of Pages: 579
Source: Amazon
Rating: 2 of 5 stars

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.

Eight of my friends gave this book five stars.
Ten gave it four stars.
Three gave it three stars.
No one gave it less than three stars.

Then there's me, giving this book two stars. The only explanation? I'm weird. There's not much I can say about this book, not in fear of spoiling something (honestly, I don't think there's much to spoil), but because nothing really happened, and I suppose that is my reason enough for not liking this book as I had hoped I would.

Like Hereafter, A Discovery of Witches is, in all honesty, a series of obstacles placed upon Diana and Matthew only to add stress to their relationship. And what a relationship it is! /end sarcasm\ I'm not sure I understand where you're coming from, Diana... At first, you try to avoid Matthew at all costs. Then, on the next page, you're flirting with him. Then (view spoiler)[you're married and are pregnant with his child. How long have you guys known each other? Just wondering... (hide spoiler)] As you may have noticed, I've placed this book on my shelf entitled, "take-your-insta-love-and-leave", because, in a sense, their relationship was insta-love (something I'm not very fond of).

And, as much as fans may beg to differ, I thought Diana was uninteresting and weak. She's described as a brilliant woman, but I've failed to capture any of her brilliance when reading A Discovery of Witches. She may have been book smart, but she certainly was not street smart, and lacked any sufficient amount of common sense. She's in constant need of saving, and Matthew is always there to save his little damsel in distress. I value a strong, self-reliant heroine in literature, and I can honestly say, I don't believe Diana is one.

And as for Matthew, his similarity to a certain, significant other vampire of literature is startling (and here comes what I'm sure will upset fans of this book, and those who really like Matthew). If you hadn't caught on on my hint, the significant other vampire I'm referring to is Edward Cullen. While Matthew doesn't have the creepy, stalker qualities of Edward Cullen, he does share quite a few others with him, such as:

1: He's extremely rich;
2: He's stunningly gorgeous;
3: He has a large family, though not all members in his family are of his blood;
4: He is over protective towards Diana, but, like Bella, Diana needs his protection;
5: He has an overwhelming desire to eat his love interest.

and I'm sure there are probably other little similarities, but those are all that I had picked up.

I felt that A Discovery of Witches' saving grace, as well as its downfall, was its writing. The writing itself is excellent, which is really why I won't be giving this book one star, but it's also a very large reason why it received two stars from me, because it is incredibly slow, and focuses on extremely asinine things. Harkness incorporates a wide variety of different topics in A Discovery of Witches, most unnecessary, and while her knowledge of said topics was impressive, it made for an extremely boring book. If you don't mind seemingly endless descriptions of wine (lots and lots of seemingly endless descriptions of wine), food (lots and lots of descriptions of food), an overwhelming use of Latin and French (and sometimes them mixed together to form one language), and a ton of history and science, you may just enjoy A Discovery of Witches. While I am a huge history buff, I found the history in this book to be not as sufficient as I had hoped, and therefore not sufficient enough to make me like this book very much.

Clearly, this book is for a lot of people, and clearly, it's not for me. However, if you don't mind reading a slow book that does eventually get to the point much later on in the story, if you don't mind a romance completely taking over the main plot and you don't mind being bombarded with unnecessary information, I think this will be a book you'd enjoy.

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