Published by Viking Penguin on February 2011
Genres: fantasy, paranormal, romance
Format: paperback, 579 pages
Amazon & 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.
I insinuated in an earlier post that I probably wouldn’t review this…but what the heck! I originally thought this because I took a huge break in the middle of the book to read other books (it’s really unfortunate when I do this because recalling events in a novel is hard on my wittle brain, unless I make notes — which I didn’t — but fortunately, after a reading a few pages when I came back to it, it was relatively easy to just jump back into the world of Matthew Clairmont and Diana Bishop. (I can’t brag that I remember everything that happened, but, y’know, a decent amount.)
So I finished this Wednesday night — which was such a tiring day, and I kept nodding off as I was finishing the last 40 pages that I had, but I barrelled on through! — and wanted to touch on something that a lot of people had mentioned about this book: that it was comparable to Twilight, except…better.
You can totally gather from the title that this book is about witches, so HOW, you might ask, is it like Twilight, the demon spawn of all YA literature? (Okay, I can’t hate on it too much, because it was one of the first series I remember completing throughout high school — yes, not even Harry Potter could top Twilight in my eyes…forgive me, I was young. And now I’m older and a little bit wiser.)
So instead of vampires vs. werewolves, it’s a trifecta of vampires, witches, and daemons (and I also believe werewolves were mentioned briefly?? — but they aren’t relative to this book, at least). Our protagonist is a witch who has completely rejected her witchy culture and powers and just wants to live the life of a normal human in England, studying alchemical manuscripts. One fateful day, she calls upon an ancient manuscript that no one has seen in a very long time — and basically, every witch/vampire/daemon/creature wants to get their hands on this manuscript.
I’ll admit, the premise didn’t exactly “capture my attention” at first, but I read it because a friend from work let me borrow her very loved copy. And I trusted her judgement, so carry on, I did.
Enter Matthew Clairmont — vampire! He wants to get his hand on this manuscript, too, because he’s all about discovering the birth of vampires. The first half of the book seemed a little slow to me, and this might have initiated the big pause — like, almost two months — where I didn’t pick it up at all. Instead, I read other books. Like 4 or 5 other books. But when I stepped back into the world,it was easy to just keep reading and reading to find out what happens between the witch and the vampire.
While they didn’t instantaneously love each other, it did seem a bit sudden. And once they declare that they will stick together, no matter what each other’s species has to say about it, that’s when the Congregation (aka, a small group comprised of each of the three creatures in the world) decides to get involved — and this is where the similarities come into play. Some characters are sent to break them up, either via kidnapping or death, and Diana gets a little “Bella” on us by damning all consequences because Matthew is the love of her life, no matter what, and she would rather face death.
But at least Diana isn’t some lame, emotionless high-schooler who really has no redeeming qualities about her. Diana is smart, determined, and is secretly a bad-ass witch. (Who can’t control her powers, but that’s beside the point!) And at least there is no vampire/werewolf/human love triangle — or any type of love triangle! While Diana is swarmed upon by other creatures because she called this manuscript that was never supposed to be found, they venture to Paris under the guise of safety, but nothing is really safe now, and when they get to Diana’s aunt’s house — a house that is SO COOL I WANT TO LIVE IN IT — is where I really started to rapidly turn those pages.
So while there are some elements that may make you think Twilight, A Discovery of Witches is a book that deserves to stand apart from the human-vampire love trope. Harkness creates unique characters with an unparalleled plot, and I’m eager to pick up the second book, which my friend wants me to do soon so that we can discuss!
DEAR READER: What do you ultimately think about Twilight? Do you think you’d be interested in A Discovery of Witches?
Now that it is well past midnight, Rosie must venture to her comfy-cozy bed where she will try to read some more of When Dimple Met Rishi, but then she will ultimately succumb to beautiful slumber. Ahhh, sleep. She had a delightful day, consisting of a fun gym workout with friends, a vision-board decorating sesh with Brandi, and shopping — which resulted in a $130 loss. She hopes your weekend is going just as good as hers, and hopes you’ll stick around for more future book reviews & blubbering nonsense! ♥