5 Reasons Why I Love A Discovery of Witches [SPOILERS]
By Barb H on June 24, 2011
I have to admit I was slow to warm up to A Discovery of Witches. I plodded along in the book, mildly interested in the plot, but getting increasingly annoyed with Diana Bishop. She seemed to have the damsel in distress act perfected. Every time something a bit scary or challenging happened, there was vampire Matthew Clairmont to save the day. I found myself rolling my eyes at Matthew and Diana. I didn’t know where Deborah Harkness was going with the story. I thought I had stumbled into a trite romance novel wrapped up in a world of witches, magic and vampires. Yawn.
But, then I read chapter 29. In this chapter, Diana is being held captive by Setu, a fellow witch and one of the evil members of the Congregation. Kaboom! Now the story starts. And, I’m hooked. Here’s why:
1. Diana is forced to discover her power. Now the true magic in the novel emerges. Not many women I know like to read about a woman, a witch with magical powers no less, who can’t take care of herself in a crisis. Diana was that woman in the first half of the novel. But, she becomes more the instant she follows the silver ribbon to the top of the oubliette. Sure, Matthew was waiting to take her home, but Diana showed strength and courage to get to him. I was excited to see her finally exploring her powers and becoming a woman who could take care of herself.
2. The characters are varied and deep. As annoyed as I was with Diana Bishop at first, I grew to love her as the heroine of the novel. When I learned her lack of powers were the result of a binding spell, I felt sympathetic and a bit claustrophobic for her. She’s just one of the many deep characters whose full powers and secrets are veiled. There must be more to Ysabeau, Marthe, Sophie, Marcus, Nathaniel and many other characters the novel touched on. Not only that, but those long dead are poised to become active characters in the story, should it continue, as Diana and Matthew time walk.
3. The Bishop house is a full-fledged character in the novel. It kind of reminds me of The Weasley Burrow in the Harry Potter books, except it’s even more magical. It has opinions. It welcomes guests. It’s charming. And, I’m quite sure it holds secrets that are, in part, keys to some of the answers that are yet to be revealed.
4. The vampires are living beings. Vampires tend to be written in a similar fashion with a few tweaks, no matter the author and the novel. Harkness has done that here, as well. Her vampires are smart, wealthy, long-lived and alive. That’s right, alive. They are not the living dead. Their hearts beat, albeit slowly. They can be killed, though not as easily as humans. I like this twist to the ordinary vampire legend, because, well, it seems plausible.
5. A Discovery of Witches is filled with unanswered questions. Typically, this isn’t a good thing in a novel, but in this case it works. Mostly because I think it means we can expect a sequel, possibly even a trilogy that will answer most, if not all, of the questions.
Deborah, if you’re reading this, am I right? Are you working on it? Do you have any teasers for us?
Harkness has created a convincing, alternate universe in her book, A Discovery of Witches. From the mystery surrounding Ashmole 782 to the trinity of non-human creatures, The Knights of Lazarus and Diana’s training in witchcraft, there’s still much to be discovered. I can’t wait to find out where this is going.
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