Thursday, February 9, 2012

Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Publisher: Viking
Publishing Date: February 8th, 2011
Genre: Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 579 pgs
ISBN: 9780670022410

Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary from 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 Review: 
I was quite eager to read this novel because I had read so many things about it. It is a book about witches, vampires and daemons so I was fairly certain it was going to be the kind of book I would enjoy. That being said, I have am having a difficult time reviewing this book. At certain points I really loved this book and I couldn't put it down and at other points I just kept thinking about all the other books I'd rather be reading. I don't necessarily think that this is a fault of the author but perhaps the fact that I had recently went on a book buying spree. I tend to do that from time to time; I buy a whole bunch of books and then I have a hard time really enjoying them because I just want to read the other new books.

Anyhow, back to the actual novel, I have to admit that I really liked the tenacity of Diana Bishop. Come hell or high water she was going to do as she pleased. She was not going to use magic, she was going to start a relationship with a vampire and she was going to push boundaries doing it all. She ruffled quite a few feathers but at the same time she managed to win everyone over.

Matthew Clairmont on the other hand, I'm not so sure about. At times I found him very charming and at other times I kept thinking that he was incredibly old fashioned. He always wants to be the hero and he does so at times by hiding things from the woman he claims to love. Everything he does seems convoluded and I really dislike how he tries to pull the wool over Diana's eyes at every turn.

In turn, this is the one thing that bugs me about Diana. While she can be so strong-willed, she can also be a little permissive when it comes to the way Matthew treats her.

The writing is fluid and beautiful and I think that Harkness does a great job at describing different settings.
Overall I have to give this book 3.5 out of 5 because as I say I found myself distracted by other things. I will have to read the second book in this series to really know how I feel about Harkness.

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