February 17, 2012

Review: A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches
Deborah Harkness
All Souls Trilogy #1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Rating: 3

Diana Bishop is a scholar of alchemy researching at Oxford. Inadvertently, she calls up an ancient, magical text from the stacks of the Bodelin Library; Ashmole 782. Once returned, it sets off a chain reaction that attracts the attention of every witch, daemon, and vampire nearby. The major players of each preternatural group have been seeking the book for centuries in hopes of understanding the origins of their species, and now they are seeking Diana. Can she elude them with the help of a sexy vampire scholar? And what will happen when what develops between them is expressly forbidden?

I know a lot of you loved this book, so it is with great sadness that I admit I didn't enjoy it as much as I had hoped. I think my main problem with it stems from the fact that it is so strongly advertised as a literary urban fantasy. I was expecting an intellectual take on witches and vampires and got a "twilight for adults" The scholarly portion of the book takes up the first third and then appears sporadically throughout, but the main focus of the book seems to be the relationship between Diana and Matthew. This would have been much more enjoyable and easier for me to swallow if it had been advertised to me this way to begin with. Don't hand me a sickeningly sweet vampire romance and tell me it is "Equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense..." It would be more accurate to say it is a tale of vampire-witch insta-love sprinkled with history and science. Matthew and Diana know each other for less than a month, but end up so in love with each other, they are willing to put their families in danger in order to be together. Plus their love becomes so overly sappy, I ended up struggling to finish the book.

Now, I am not totally hating on this book. From beginning to middle, I was actively engaged and had an enjoyable read. I loved reading about the Oxford atmosphere and yoga classes. I also was delighted by the premise of Matthew researching witch DNA and being able to identify the markers for different inherited powers. That part of the book was wonderful.

I had the opportunity to read this book as a buddy read, and one of the women I read this with, Nichole pointed out it was also much longer than it needed to be. I have to agree with her here. There were quite a few scenes and details that could have been shaved off the final product. This would have made the read feel more smooth and less tedious. I always become wary when I sigh in relief after finishing a book. I feel this wouldn't have been the case if it hadn't been so unnecessarily LONG1 This was honestly a case of too much fluff and not enough solid plot.

Recommendation: I would definitely recommend this to romance lovers. You will find much to love in a read of A Discovery of Witches. However, if you are more of an urban fantasy person, I think you will find it leaves a lot to be desired.

1 comment:

Lindsae said...

Hey Everyone! This is Lindsae again. I just went to my local library and picked up this book. I was really intrigued with what my sister Jessica had said. She is a total vampire/syfy person and if she said that it wasn't up to par I would love to find out why. I love all things vampires and witches so I thought I would give this a try. Plus it is supposed to have some romance? Well we shall see if I like it. Thanks Jessica for your well written review. It made me want to pick up this book and check it out.