I have no idea what to say about this book. I didn’t love, but I didn’t hate it either.
End of review.
No, I’m kidding. While I have mixed feelings about A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, I do know that it was intriguing enough that I kept reading without it feeling like a chore and that it’ll bug me if I don’t finish the next two books. That says something, right?
People Magazine said that this book is “an irresistible tale of wizardry, science, and forbidden love.” I’m providing this because I think it gives a taste of what the book is about in only a few words.
Since I’m having trouble writing this out in a narrative way, I’m going to simply divide it into what I liked and what I didn’t like.
What I Liked
I really liked the premise of the story. Diana Bishop is a witch, but because of certain circumstances, she decides to bury it leaving her as an untrained witch. She doesn’t want magic as a part of her life so much that she counts how many times a year she uses magic. When the book starts, she’s at four times for the year. Not using magic and then coming into contact with this mysterious manuscript, jumpstarts the story and leads the reader down different paths. Harkness did a good job weaving all the components together to make a compelling and gripping story without making it confusing.
Overall, I liked the characters; I thought they were well written. I did, however, like some characters more than others, but I don’t think I loved any of them.
With that being said …
What I Didn’t Like
While I liked the premise of the story, there were many parts that I wasn’t overly fond of. The book is nearly 600 pages. That’s a lot of detail and other bits of the story in there. Some of it I seriously wondered if it really needed to be in there. There were many excerpts from old and famous books and manuscripts that I don’t remember, so it makes me wonder, does it really need to be in there? On top of that, I don’t understand any of it. The characters of course do, but I don’t and I felt like that took away from the story a little.
Another major aspect I disliked was the romance story arch. In this world there are three types of creatures besides humans: witches, vampires, and daemons. For hundreds of years all three have agreed that none from separate ‘races’ should congregate together, especially in an intimate way. Of course, Diana and vampire Matthew go against this and enter into a forbidden love. That’s fine, although vampire love stories are not usually my first choice. My problem is that it felt too insta-love and there’s talk that implies that their love has been fated.
The story sets everything up in the beginning and then all of sudden they go off together and a huge chunk of the middle is all about their relationship and then it gets a little more interesting towards the end.
I think overall, I was simply disappointed by this book. I didn’t buy it while it was being hyped up, but I still gave myself high hopes. However, I do think the story is being well developed despite the things I don’t like and I can only hope it gets better and more interesting in the final two books.
Have you read this book? What did you think?