Title: A Discovery of Witches
Author: Deborah Harkness
Series: All Souls Trilogy #1
Publisher: Viking Penguin
Edition: Hardcover, 585 Pages
Literary Awards: SCIBA Award For Fiction
This review does contain spoilers, please read with caution.
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness is a real puzzler. I enjoyed the book and plan on reading book two (Shadow Of The Night) but found the book to be frustrating.
What I did not like about A Discovery Of Witches:
This book is way too long! For being so long, it has little action. At well over 500 pages, this book seemed to drag. I did have a hard time putting it down but I am not sure if it was because I enjoyed reading it or was just waiting for something (anything) to happen.
A Discovery Of Witches has a lot of characters which can be confusing at times. This is especially the case when so many are introduced at the end of the book. Deborah Harkeness might go into further detail about these characters in subsequent books but as of the end of this one, there are a few who seem pretty random. The two daemons introduced near the end (who also have a forbidden love and a forbidden pregnancy) are a great example. They both literally move right in but we learn very little about them
The plot is all over the place. It starts with being about alchemy and Asmole 782, jumps to issues with forbidden relationships and all the different creatures, and ends with some kind of stand against the man. It felt like there were so many story lines (many of them interesting) with little to no resolution. I hope these issues are addressed in the subsequent books.
I do not read books for the titillation (not a fan of erotica or romance novels) but having a destined greatest love story ever in a book and all the main characters do is heavy petting is boring. Even with the lack of sex, the love story seems off. Mathew is so overprotective and gushy, it made me want Diana to break up with him.
Diana has such a personality change in the later parts of the book that it seems like she is bent on becoming subservient to a man she has known for a few weeks. I understand that Mathew is a vampire, old-fashioned, but Diana is a modern, educated woman whom I would hope would have her own voice. There is a lot of talk of obeying Mathew, couched in the hew is a vampire and the head of household, which really did not make it easier for me to read or understand. It made me as ragey as New Moon where all Bella can do is moan about heartbreak. I like my fictional women strong and independent, able to function without the help of a man.
All of these issues aside, I did enjoy A Discovery Of Witches and do plan on reading the follow-up Shadow Of The Night. I have hope that tighter editing and more of a focus on moving the plot forward will lead to a better book two.
Images from goodreads.