Thursday, April 3, 2014

Throwback Thursday Before I Blogged I Read: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Title: A Discovery of Witches
Author: Deborah Harkness

Synopsis:  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 week's Top Ten Tuesday was to talk about "gateway books." I mentioned A Discovery of Witches because I hated it so much it got me back into blogging. A few comments made me realize I never actually blogged about this book, but also that I should probably explain myself. But first a story:

Remember how amazing it was when 1-click buying was created on Amazon. How you could, for the first time, use your preferred shipping address and billing information to purchase a book with the swipe of a single button. It was GLORIOUS! Did anyone else accidentally order a book without even realizing it? Just me? That's cool, I'm not ashamed. If you haven't deduced why I'm telling you this story it's because that book was A Discovery of Witches. 

So I ordered this book that I wanted but wasn't totally sold on and decided it was fate. I thought I should give it a try and read it. Now this was a time where I was going through a lot personally. I was about to move to Pittsburgh, a city where I knew one person, for a brand new job and it was very stressful. I was also going through a bit of a reading slump so I decided to dive into what seemed like the perfect book for me. It was fantasy with a focus on magic and seemed like a lot of the Historical Mysteries/Thrillers that I always love. So I started reading with high hopes thinking that the universe wanted me to read this book, and who can argue with the universe? (No one, that's who). But as I started reading I realized that this book was not at all what I was hoping for.

The first reason I hated this book is that it had such promise. From the description it sounds like a book totally up my alley. I really wanted to love this book but I couldn't, I really couldn't. I kept waiting for it to get interesting and it never got there. I was waiting for the magic to come into play and there was so little that it was almost like there wasn't any at all. If you are expecting a book about magic, you have come to the wrong place. I told multiple people when I was reading this book that "it sounds so interesting, but it really isn't."

Another problem is that the pacing was terrible. It took forever to get interesting and when something exciting did happen it was over before I even realized what was happening. Certain things dragged on and on but then other moments were over way too quickly. There were so many times where I thought that entire chunks of the plot were missing because things passed way too quickly. But I also think I was just really not a fan of the writing style. I'm not sure if it was the writing or the editing but there was just something about it that felt unfinished and poorly executed. It felt like amateur hour.

But my real problem was that I just  couldn't get behind the protagonist. I was hoping for a strong female academic and she was not it. She changed her opinions more than she changed her clothes and couldn't stand by any of her decisions. Every time she would tell herself she should do something or not do it seconds later she would change her mind. She was spineless and I hated it. 

It felt like it was trying too hard to be an adult alternative to Twilight. The similarities between that story and this are astounding. I already mentioned how I disliked the MC and she seemed to just be a regurgitation of all Bella's bad qualities. Then we have the insta-love with a vampire situation who by the way is super overprotective. It was just too much of an Edward and Bella situation for my liking. Plus a lot of the vampire lore and mythology is similar to Twilight and they were things that differ from traditional vampire lore. It really just felt like this book was trying to capitalize on the popularity of Twilight and I cannot get behind pandering. 

I really wanted to DNF the book but all my other books were packed away in boxes for my move and so I forced myself to finish it. I'm glad that I did because the last 50 pages were actually not that bad but it was a case of too little too late. I've read some reviews about people who really liked this book and the second one in the series sounds a lot better but between the poor writing, the fact that I didn't like the characters, and that I found the world uninteresting I don't think I will be picking the next two books up.

I give a Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness 4 out of 10 stars

And now that you know why I didn't like this book you can make up your mind for yourself about if you want to read it. If you are a fan of the Twilight series and looking for something similar than check this book out. If you've read A Discovery of Witches leave me a comment with your thoughts. Do you agree or disagree? Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. oh bugger! I have just requested this for review! :')

    Well, I hope I enjoy it a bit more than you did. There is nothing worse than when you can't get behind a character!

    Also, there was a silver lining. Even if it was a book so bad that it got you back in to blogging!

    Here is to a better read! :)

    Alex @ The Shelf Diaries

    1. YES, when I can't connect with the characters is so hard to connect with anything else in the book. It totally takes me out of the story!

      I hope you like it more too! A lot of people really liked it so I'm sure it was just my reading slump at the time.

      Happy Reading!