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A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness | Book Review

In Books on 23/08/2012 at 10:58 PM

“I don’t know where to begin” he said shakily

“At the end, of course. Why did you pick up the phone and call me?”

This is how “A Discovery of Witches” by Deborah Harkness goes: Diana Bishop is descendant of two powerful bloodlines of witches and wizards, she could be a magical superwoman but of course she wants nothing to do with magic and focuses instead on a successful career, she is a historian a professor of alchemy (what ever that is). Her world is turned upside down when she calls an enchanted manuscript, Ashmole 782 which is believed to hold “secrets” that every supernatural creature in the world; witches, vampires and daemons want to get their hands on but haven’t been able to for eons. When Diana does the thought to be impossible some kind of energy is conveniently released and attracts other supernatural creatures. One of them being Mathew Clairmont a mysterious vampire. They of course fall deep in love, threatening a carefully arranged world where witches, vampires and deamons don’t mix. And now Mathew and Diana have so much to discover, so little time and enemies hidden and known. “It all started with a discovery of withes.”


I deserve some kind of medal or award for reading this book to the last word. It’s not Deborah Harkness’s fault that I found her number 17 book on NY Times’s Paperback Trade Fiction bestselling list incredibly boring. It’s probably because the book is really badly edited and her writing style doesn’t help either, I often found myself asking what the hell is going on? Things just randomly happened that made no sense what so ever. I would have to go back couple paragraphs to get up to speed. Like when some crazy ex-girlfriend bitch called Juliette comes in towards the end of the book and tries to kill Matthew (she was emitting some serious jealousy vibes) . I had to re-read that part several times to simply understand what the hell was going on! Diana kills the bitch with witch-fire, by randomly shooting a bow and arrow, God knows how that happens. Then there’s all these random characters Harkness just drops now and then.

I also found myself asking Do I care? For two major reasons. The first and most serious being that Harkness failed to make me connect with the characters or the story. I just did not care. Her writing style just made me detach from the story all together. I wasn’t rooting for anyone, none of the characters gripped me. I simply was not interested. I was reading for the sake of reading. At some point in the book, Diana gets kidnapped by another crazy bitch a witch this time and she gets really badly tortured and hurt and through out all that, I did not care. Even in the aftermath when she was in so much pain and Mathew wad taking care of her and Harkness was describing the wounds, I still didn’t care.

That is how bad Harkness is; she couldn’t even achieve sympathy. The second reason is that Harkness made me feel like I was reading a biology book instead of contemporary fiction. Diana is a historian and Matthew is a scientist of many fields so I expected a bit of “smart talk”. But nooo! Harkness decided to bore me to death with science and Darwin, she was on about DNA and mitochondria something something and clans aka genetic lineages and fuck all. They was this whole chapter about DNA and biology and shit. And I was just like…. DO I CARE! The thing is all that “smart talk” didn’t help me understand the story more so it was completely pointless and annoying.

Talking about the story, A Discovery of Witches was not only boring but also disappointing because Harkness had a number of story lines but she just didn’t source out 100% of the dramatic potential. If writing was her forte this book would not have sucked. She had…..

1. Ashmole 782 an enchanted lost manuscript that everyone wanted, Diana was in danger because she is the one who managed to call it
 2. Forbidden love between Diana & Mathew the enemy was The Congregation which is basically a better Voultori
3. Diana’s incredibly powers, something that The Congregation wants and something that Diana doesn’t want, can’t control and doesn’t understand. It is also linked to Ashmole 782.
4. Diana’s parents mysterious death caused by other witches, linked to all of the above.
5. The possible excitation of supernatural creature which causes mother nature to fight back in strange ways
6. The possibility of war, because of reason 2 and a bit of 3 and 1

There is no denying that Harkness is creative it’s just that she is not a good story-teller. She builds up the stories but does nothing with them. That is part of the reason why this book is horrible and boring. Then again i can only speak for I and I read other reviews prior to buying the book and I have come to the conclusion that it’s the type that you will absolutely love or absolutely hate, there is no middle ground.

It’s not all bad two things made the book semi bearable. One being the way that Harkness presented vampires. I loved how she made one of the most versatile supernatural creatures in fiction her own. I would have loved to see more of that. Two being the relationship between Mathew and Diana. That shit is cute. When it comes to these vampire/ something else relationships the vampires always hate themselves and wish that they were human and blah blah blah. However Matthew is 100% proud of his vampireness and does not hold back one bit. He is possessive and overly protective, he would actually kill his own son if he thought he was a danger to the apple of his eye!! Damn!

The most annoying thing about “A Discovery of Witches” is the fact that I want to know what the hell happens next. That is how I feel about every single book I ever read that has a sequel whether good or bad . How incontinent are the inner workings of my brain? Book 2 is called Shadow of Night and has been out since June 2012. I am going to hold up and wait until the book is available in libraries, since “A Discovery of Witches” was a complete waste of time and money – it was only £1.99 on the amazon kindle store but I don’t care. £1.99 can feed a family and millions in the world live on much much less. So if you must get  “A Discovery of Witches” please get it from a library or a friend or off the internet. And spend the money you would have wasted on it on something worthy and useful….. like a sweater.

I give this book 2.5 out of 10 Can someone tell me what book I should read next? I appear to be having bad luck in choices. And the moral of the story is, Bestsellers List aren’t the best source of good reads.

Thanks for reading, more to come.


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