December 14, 2011

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Summary: 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 Take: I am VERY surprised that I finished this WHOLE audio book in only 24 hours of driving time. BECAUSE, even though it may have taken me 24 hours, it seemed way more like 48 hours, and I’m pretty sure I wasted my precious driving time listening to it! I think I could have spent my time more productively either listening to talk radio, to music or to another audio book or, heck, even by just talking to myself! I spent all of my time listening to this audio book while on a recent road trip from Sacramento, CA to Idaho and back…a whopping 10 hours each way! And guess what? It still took me ANOTHER 2 weeks listening to it every time I jumped in my car! I mean, if I were reading this book, I would not have gotten past the first chapter! And even if I WAS tempted to keep reading because I just wanted to know where the book was going, I just KNOW that I would have skipped through HUGE chunks of the book!

I can’t say that I actually hated the book, but I also can’t say that I really liked it much. The first half of the book dragged on and On and ON…with no progression to the story! There was just way too much detail about Dianna’s job in alchemy, and about Dianna going through old manuscripts, and about Dianna talking a lot about history and discussing why she doesn’t use her powers. And then there are all these magical creatures that were drawn to her because she was able to break a spell created by this random manuscript that she found, and I felt like even the conversations with all these creatures were drawn out FOR-EV-ER!!!!

And then once the story finally started to get good, the majority of the time was still spent talking about WAY too much detail. Do I really care about all the times Dianna becomes tired and falls asleep, and then wakes up? Or every time she becomes hungry or thirsty and what she eats and drinks? Or all the different spices she learns about and how well she identifies them just by smell? I wish I could have known in advance whenever I was about to come across senseless nonsense because then I could have fast forwarded through those parts.

Now to the parts I did like! I did like just about every character in this book. I can’t say I grew any emotional attachment to them, but they were all very likeable. Then there were the times that Dianna’s magic would come out and it was truly amazing and had me fascinated! And then there was the time she was severely tortured by another witch for information about the missing manuscript she found…THAT was crazy intense! And there were even a few times (very few!) that you would have found me with tears streaming down my face. But who WOULDN’T run into SOME type of emotion when they have put SO MANY hours into listening to one audio book? LOL!!! But my favorite part was about the Bishop house! I would totally love to live in a house with that type of magic! The house would create a whole new room every time someone was coming over to visit. It was like the house would tell them that someone was on their way, and that it was OK for them to stay. And missing items would just show up whenever they were needed (pretty handy when you lose your car keys!), and furniture would act up every time it wanted to say something. Those parts were pretty awesome.

I think by far the worst part of the book was the ending! I’ve always said that there are those types of books that seem to be leading up to a SUPER blowout ending, but then that blowout ending never happens. Kind of like in Breaking Dawn; you think it’s leading up to a HUGE fight with the Volturi, and then it never happens! Well this is one of those books. But at least with Breaking Dawn, there was a suspenseful face-off with the Volturi. Well this book led to ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! They basically just run for their lives, which leads to the second book. Well, I don’t care enough about this series to read (or listen to) the second book!


Purchased audio with my own money.


Book Sake said...

I felt the same, it went on and one and on! I can't imagine listening to it, reading it took long enough.

- Jessica @ Book Sake

Unknown said...

Yikes! I hate when the buildup leads to nothing. I also hate when I feel as if I've wasted huge chunks of my life on a book. I think I'll pass on this one.
Great review!

Cathy Keaton said...

I was going to get this one because people have been saying it's so great, but now I think I'll just check it out at the library. I don't need anything that goes too slow, then doesn't have a satisfying ending. Sounds like it doesn't have an ending at all. I won't chance it!

Thanks for this review. It helps a lot, Mindy!

Aeicha @ Word Spelunking said...

I have seen this book around and had thought about picking it up but now I don't think I'll bother.
There's nothing worse than a story that builds up to something you think is going to be big and awesome and then you just get nothing. Ugh! No thanks!

Thanks for the honest review :)

Natalia Belikov said...

I saw this book SO much at the bookstore but never got to read it even if I wanted to. Im glad I didnt though, it's very long and your review isn't the only one that didnt think it wasnt an awesome book. XD thanks for the honest review my sweet! and for stopping by ^_^ muah!

THat was a long audio book btw XD muah!

Dazzling Reads

Krazzyme(Young Readers) said...

I thought it was too big when I saw it at the library and I guess I was right!

Krazyyme @ Young Readers

Unknown said...

You took the words right out of my mouth! I was so excited to read this, because of all the paranormals witches and vampires are my favorites, and the hype on this book was HUGE. I didn't let the size put me off to much because I don't mind long books. As long as the length doesn't include endless amounts of rambling and senseless details, like this book did. All I could think of as I was reading, and after, was that this book could use a new editor. I think it could have easily been shaved down to something about half it's size. But even then, I would've probably been disappointed. Why? This is an adult piece of fiction. But it was SO vanilla I just about couldn't stand it. I won't spoil but I just did not understand or like the lack of physicality. Not that I expect it in every book I read, but yeah, I kind of expected it in this one.

The only thing that kept me reading was I liked all the science/ genetic plot aspects. I'm kind of a nerd in that way. Not sure if I will attempt reading the second book or not.

Loved the review (in case you couldn't tell!)

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