Thursday, July 5, 2012
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
A Discovery of Witches centers around Diana Bishop, a reluctant witch. Following the death of her parents, Diana, the last in a long line of powerful witches, has avoided using her powers, preferring to live a solely human life devoid of magic. She has made a career as a science historian, with a particular interest in alchemy and seems to spend much of her time researching old books in beautiful libraries, like the Bodleian Library at Oxford. In the course of her research she comes across a mysterious book that attracts witches, vampires and demons (or daemons as they are referred to in the book). For some reason they all want this book, a book that no one has seen for centuries until Diana came along and unintentionally unlocked the magic that had kept it hidden for centuries. It as the Bodleian that Diana meets the vampire Matthew Clairmont. At first wary of him, Diana quickly falls under his spell or maybe it's the other way around.
I enjoyed the beginning of the book when Diana is at the Bodleian the most. (As a librarian and book lover I hope to visit this amazing library someday.) I also liked reading about the differences between the vampires, witches and demons. Where the book lost me was the romance between Diana and Matthew. The last two-thirds of A Discovery of Witches reminded me of the Twilight series only with adults but oddly just as chaste. I means there's a girl/woman and the vampire she falls in love with about five seconds after he walks into her life. Before she and Matthew became a serious item, Diana seemed to be a strong and independent woman with interests and hobbies of her own. With Matthew she quickly becomes the damsel in distress in need of constant rescue. She is a powerful of witch but denies who and what she is, and it is only with Matthew's help (or one might say at his command) that she begins to explore her own power. My irritation with the central characters grew and their romance blossomed.
This book has a lot going on, in addition to the romance. Diana it seems is a very special witch, but it isn't clear why. Nor is is clear why the mysterious book Diana found is so important or why witch, vampire and demon are all so desperate to get their hands on it. A Discovery of Witches is the first in a planned trilogy. I'm not quite sure yet if I'm intrigued enough by the other plot threads to get past the romance and continue the trilogy.