A Discovery of Witches: Twilight Meets Harry Potter

BlogHer Review
I both liked and disliked A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. I do love a good fantasy novel and when I heard it included vampires and witches, I figured it had some real potential given how much I really did enjoy the premise of the Twilight series.

I can’t really say this about many books I’ve read, but there were times I really liked the book and times it annoyed me.

I’ll start with the annoyances.

It really bothered me that many parts of the book were so much like Twilight. Obviously there are the usual vampire traits you see across the board - cold skin, speed, blood thirst, etc. That was a given.

But the whole family against the forbidden love, obsessive feelings for the vampire, helpless damsel being kidnapped by the bad guy in an attempt to kill her, one of the couple is close to death and drinking of blood is required to stave off the inevitable, suggestion that vampires are in fact fertile, and ruling class of otherworldly creatures hunting down and threatening the couple because of their forbidden love has been done.

It also slowed down a lot for what felt like a great deal of detailed descriptions that could have been better paraphrased.

However, if I’d never read or seen Twilight, I’d have overlooked the slow points because the rest of the book is quite entertaining.

The author is clearly an academic and goes to great pains to paint a vivid picture of ancient books and illustrations. I learned a bit about alchemy as the story unfolded, as well as medieval history.

I also enjoyed her take on witch legends and lore. Unlike the parallels with Twilight, the book didn’t borrow from Harry Potter, instead adding another level to the imagination about witchcraft and magic.

Spoiler Alert

The basic premise is an orphaned witch, Diana, refuses to use her power in adulthood. She stumbles upon a magical manuscript, which gathers the attention of other witches as well as vampires and the “other” otherworldly beings, daemons – all of which don’t like each other much.

But a certain male vampire, Matthew, catches her attention and together they travel across oceans and even through time outrunning the Congregation that sees to both learn what they know of the manuscript and destroy them for their forbidden love (species of otherworldly creatures are forbidden to mate). Several secrets related to Diana’s past and her magic are revealed along the way.

While the book ends in the middle of the action (perhaps a hope for a sequel?), it does so only after suggesting the two characters must have a child to bring about change as that child will be something the world has never before seen.

Like I said, it has a lot of action, suspense and a great deal of research went into its creation. But I had a lot of trouble getting past how much it sounded like Twilight. I think the author did herself and the book an unfortunate disservice there. But those who love fantasy novels with historic references, and who’ve not seen Twilight or are really not bothered by parallels between the two, will enjoy this book. In fact, if there is another book, I might just pick it up to see what happens next.


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