Saturday, June 25, 2016

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) by Deborah Harkness

Title: A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1)
Author: Deborah Harkness
Publisher: Viking Penguin, 2011

This is one of those books that I really, really wanted to love, because I have this thing for academics who stumble onto earth-shattering secrets. Also, I still hold out a hope that I'll find depictions of vampires in fiction that will fill me with happiness. I'd heard that this book was basically Twilight for academics and I'd hoped that the comparison would be a load of pigs' bollocks.

Unfortunately the comparison to Twilight is all too apt, and anyone who's read Meyer's books will see the similarities. And, possibly, love it for all the same reasons (if they're a fan). I'm not a fan of Twilight even if I have to grudgingly admit that I'm glad it's spurred people who wouldn't ordinarily read into picking up more books other than Meyer's.

I digress...

Deborah Harkness can write, and she does so well, but by gum, where the hell was her editor to rein her in? A large part of this book was food porn, as Diana Bishop pontificates over what to feed her vampiric consort. The story takes aaages to get off the ground, and, much like my suffering through Outlander, I kept reading in the hope of seeing the story take off.

It doesn't.

Essentially, Diana Bishop is the last scion of a long line of respected witches, who prefers logic and reason to employing her unpredictably strong magic. She prefers the life of quiet academia to the adventures that resulted in her parents' untimely sticky end. And then she meets pretty-boy vampire Matthew, and the two proceed to a tsundere-style relationship until they finally admit their love for one another.

Matthew dominates and bullies, and is the typical alpha male I'm sure scores of avid female readers of urban fantasy love and crave. Except he does absolutely nothing for me. We're introduced to a bunch of other species. We're introduced to a Chosen One trope, though Diana's hardly a Harry Potter. She manifests all sorts of super powers but doesn't seem to be too fazed.

And then there's the effing book. I call it the effing book because FFS if I were a bookworm. Actually, I lie, I'm a complete book freak, and if there was a supposedly magical manuscript that only I could find or call up in the stacks ... and I'd let it slip through my fingers, I'd be a lot more freaked out by the mystery and a lot more adamant to get to the bottom of it than Diana Bishop, who seems to be more concerned about yoga, rowing and the freaking SALAD she's feeding a vampire than she is about the effing book everyone's getting their knickers in a twist about.

Okay, that was a effing long sentence, but yeah, I spent half my time while reading wanting to throw my iPhone at the wall out of pure frustration.

The bottom line is there's stuff that's going down, but the characters spend most of their time waffling, even when there's clear and present danger ... and they have zero sense of urgency. There's talk about family planning FFS... The effing book that's mysteriously vanished... and they're swanning about in the French effing countryside. Eating ... and comparing notes on fine wines. ARGH.

I think Harkness is probably a very fine travel or foodie writer. If you like that sort of detail on nearly every page, you'll love this book, I suppose. I just got really tired of waiting for things to get off the ground ... and then even when they did (and by now these super-duper magical occurrences were happening as effortlessly as they would in that TV series Charmed) ... and there's a monster a minute, with whiffs of inter-species xenophobia to boot...

Mainly, I feel that the book got off to a promising start but was then bloated with unnecessary detail to the point where I suspect the author wasn't really sure *how* she was going to end the novel... But that's just my inner editor whispering thoughts into my head. Don't mind me. I'll just sit here in my corner whimpering on about how Twilight killed the vampire.

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