A Discovery of Witches, a review by Tanya

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A Discovery of Witches (All Souls #1)
Deborah Harkness

579 pages
Published Feb 2011 by Viking Penguin

Amazon | Goodreads

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About the Book:

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.

My Review:

Ok.  So I heard so much about this book when it first came out that I knew I would just love it, so I bought it.  It was a really busy time in my life then so I wasn’t reading very much and it sat on my shelf for years.

Several years later I saw it at a bookstore and thought, oh I want to read that! So I bought it again, completely forgetting that I already had it!  (How many of you do this too? I hope it’s not just me!)

So now I have 2 copies.

When I finally started getting back in to reading in 2020, this was on my TBR list and I happily sat down to dig in to this almost 600 page book.

It started out really interesting and I loved the thought of this witchy story taking place in a library! But after several chapters I was left empty, not caring about Diana or Matthew or the story.  So I decided to put it on the shelf and pick it up another time.

Here we are in Oct 2021 and I decided to try this on audiobook, thinking maybe I need to have a different way to connect with the story and characters.  11 hours in to the 24 hour book, I was ready to bang my head against the wall.  So bored!

Diana’s character was driving me crazy!  A mega-powerful witch that doesn’t embrace her magic and throws a tantrum anytime someone suggests she should. What?  Why would someone with a gift such as this not use it for …. literally anything?  Helping others? Learning the answers to all the questions she has as a student/professor and sharing with the world?  I mean, literally anything!

And the Matthew/Diana relationship is so …ick.  Me Man – You Woman. I will take care of you because you can’t take care of yourself. You will do as I say at all times.  I will isolate you from everyone and everything so you have to rely on me for everything. (rolling my eyes)   Are we not past these types of stories yet? I don’t know, maybe we are now but not back in 2011 when this was written?

I swear the last 2 hours of the book I listened to was Diana sleeping, waking up to ask how long she had been sleeping, then eating, the drinking wine. Repeat. Repeat again.  No wonder this book is almost 600 pages.  Ugh.

I’m so disappointed.  Such a bummer. This was a DNF at 40%


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