A Discovery of Witches: A Novel (Unabridged)
by Deborah Harkness
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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.
This book is immediately engaging. If you like the Twilight series but find Bella a bit naive and prone to swooning, you will be much happier with Diana Bishop. The historical precision and academic subject matter is reminiscent of Dan Brown's books. But unlike his books, A Discovery of Witches has a wonderful intertwined love story (told much better by Harkness than Brown and less syrupy than Twilight). You won't ever want it to end!
Yes, it was a bit pricey at $29.95...but worth it. A wonderfully indulgent book. This book was brilliantly written, beautifully narrated, and has the kind of character depth that will no doubt blossom with future installments. While on the subject of future installments, I will say that a follow-up is in order and quickly! There are many resolutions left dangling and if Ms. Harkness' goal was to leave readers wanting, then I would be the first to say that she achieved that goal. I was inclined to purchase this audiobook because of another review comparing the book to the works of Ann Rice and I would have to agree with the comparison in the sense that there are so many historical references and supernatural characters. I would say that this book also calls to mind a bit of the more modern settings of Charlaine Harris without the cheesiness and cheekiness. Also the one thing I really love is that this book is targeted to a more sophisticated reader who would thoroughly enjoy a good supernatural suspense without any traces of teen angst or high school highjinks like Twilight or Harry Potter. I love a good supernatural fiction as much as the next person, but beyond a certain age, it looks a bit silly to be reading the books geared to younger readers which makes this book all the more pleasurable like slipping on your favorite and best fitting pair of jeans with sandals, and feeling the first warm day of spring that you just don't want to end. Cuddle up with a glass of wine and enjoy this one! Oh, if you are curious about the romantic elements, there are plenty of beautiful moments, but nothing too graphic and in certain moments of the story you almost wish they would go for it, but if this is only the beginning of the series then there is plenty of room to heat things up. Personally, I think it is too easy to just throw sex into the story to make it interesting and that more storyline is a good thing!
One for (some of ) the Big Girls
With Discovery, Harkness teeters on the line between young-adult and adult reads, writing with a slicker style, inserting interesting historical facts, and using adult characters. But she doesn't distance herself entirely from the teenage vampire romance glut...IF you're looking to avoid that genre. The standard fare is on board...the dreamy virginal vampire (albeit centuries older), the supernatural powered heroine, a cast of other world characters, and a sappy romantic plot (you'll have to admit it is very hard to buy). And, you'd be justified complaining that the book seems more like a prequel than a stand alone novel. Sometimes slow, predictable, cliched, BUT it was kind of fun (1 star for fun) with a couple new twists, and it left some unanswered questions that set the premise for what looks to be an entertaining series for those that have wanted a fantasy/vampire read -- and haven't been able to jump on the overloaded teenage vampire BookMobile. **Comparison to Anne Rice!?..like comparing the wonderfully horrifying Lestat to Sesame Street's charming Count--apples and oranges!