A Discovery of Witches, Vampires and Deamons . . . Oh, Why?

BlogHer Review

By now, you probably know that vampires are a hot commodity. Joining those lusty vampires in the hip-lit topic pile are demons, werewolves, witches and any story line involving a romance between them and regular old humans.

Deborah Harkness capitalizes on the popular formula in A Discovery of Witches, the first in a planned trilogy. But as I read the book I had to ask myself, "Why?"

Why yet another poorly written vampire/witch/deamon book full of stereotypes and overworked scenes? Is this really what the public is clamoring for?

Apparently, it is.

And, if I am honest, I can see the appeal, to some degree. Harkness has created a world familiar to anyone who has read the books in the Twilight series, or any other historical romances. It's a formula that works, and one that readers can easily digest. Harkness' heroine, Diana Bishop, is a scholar of 17th century chemistry who is doing research at Oxford. She's also a witch.

While in the library doing research she starts to read a mysterious text, the Ashmole 782. The book is missing three pages and, it turns out, is full of magic that Diana has awakened. By awakening the magic within the Ashmole 782, Diana has also attracted the attention of some demons and vampires (who all seem to hang out in the library) and now, her life is in danger.

Of course, there's one main vampire, Matthew, who is all kinds of dashing and handsome and charming. Seduction ensues. So does a series of murders, an abduction and basically a whole cataloging of vampires powers and lives. They have wine cellars! They ride horses! They save damsels in distress!

It goes on and on. Harkness is nothing if not wordy and she has a keen ability to drag scenes out far beyond what is necessary, creating a plot pace that significantly detracts from what could otherwise be interesting turns.

The book picks up at the end, which could mean that the next two installments might be more enjoyable. However, fans of the whole vampire or historical romance genres will likely enjoy the book, shortcomings and all. Too bad one of the biggest shortcomings was the too-long length.

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