Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Goodreads: 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: The story, from what I understood, is that Diana, a witch, is doing research in Oxford and pulls up a heavily bewitched text called ASHMOLE 782 which has been enchanted for a century and a half. She touches it and it opens. She takes her notes then puts it back. She then realizes she is being watched and followed by other witches, vampires and daemons. The point is that Ashmole is important but the actual content is never revealed. She is threatened and protected by Matthew, a very old vampire.

I am yawning through this. Diana is also a brilliant historian, like the author. I love reading history but the historical tidbits are so random and out of context, my head was spinning. Add to this the art of alchemy without knowing the projected outcome of the change and not knowing what the ASHMOLE text contained that is so important, I was just frustrated.

Turns out that Diana is a very powerful witch who has been fighting her true nature since the death of her parents. But then Matthew, her fated lover enters her realm and her powers are unleashed. However, those powers are so random and unpredictable, I wondered if they were part of the story or an impulsive additive. I didn't see connections.

Speaking of random and unpredictable, situations would arise that were unclear to both the reader and the MC. For instance, Marcus called Matthew to tell him he would come to tell Diana something but didn't tell Matthew what it was. Matthew met Marcus with undue fury way out of proportion for not knowing his news. When the news is revealed, again, the import is not understood, Diana faints. Actually, she does that a lot.

So I finished the book not knowing why Ashmole text was so important that creatures would kill Diana for it but knowing that even the creatures did not know what was in it. I still do not know the significance of Diana's parents being brutally murdered except they were protecting Diana because she is powerful and whatever is in Ashmole. I totally did not understand why the couple did not consummate their marriage - I read the words of Matthew saying it is about intimacy and they still had time yet they did everything else and it surely seemed like they shared intimacy there. It seemed a flimsy ruse to put off the possibility that she might get pregnant, although it is commonly believed that vampires can not procreate that way.

Fortunately, I am in the minority about the book. It has received rave reviews by many readers. For me, it was too random and disconnected.


1 comment:

V.Hapgood said...

Thank you for this review. I've been interested in this book because of the subject matter and because of the rave reviews. However, after finding over a hundred reviews with one star and then reading your review, I'm less likely to spend money on it. It's sad, because the premise has so much potential.