Thursday, 14 January 2016

Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

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.
Star Rating: 4 stars

This book is well written and a quick read despite its length. It is very descriptive. Most books, I get a good visual idea of the characters and the setting but many authors miss out the other senses, or they are just not as prominent as the visuals. We all experience things differently depending on whether we are a visual, kinesthetic or audio type of person. I know I'm a very visual person but smells also play a big part in how I remember things (perhaps that's all the years of being an aromatherapist). Anyway, this book details smells and tastes quite heavily and I thought it really added to the whole experience. At the beginning, it was mainly in relation to wine tasting but then it was in relations to places and people.

I did enjoy the book and gave it 4 stars but I think I've got to the stage now where I've read too many "good vampire" books. They are all a bit too samey for my liking. Male vampire and female of another supernatural race (witch in this case) fall in love. It's a forbidden love. There are secrets and organisations to satisfy/avoid. The vampire is always scared they are going to hurt the woman because he's so powerful. They can't have children. blah blah blah blah... They are all the same. I think I need to go back to reading some scary vampire books as they might appeal to me more.

I thought the book was a little slow in places, especially in the middle when Diana is in France - it felt like it ebbed and flowed a lot with it's pace. I liked the first part of the book the most as it was more mystery but then it became more about the romance which became a little frustrating for me. I will continue the series as I think the next book will be interesting because of its setting (plus I own the rest of the books in the series).

I did like all the witch stuff though and I guess that was supposed to be the main focus.

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