A Discovery of Witches Was a Welcome Escape
As the stay at home mother of three young children, the bulk of the material I read can be consumed in less than ten minutes and is, more often than not, something that rhymes. More in-depth reading is reserved for work-related topics like how to talk in a love language so your kid will be the happiest toddler to go to potty boot camp. The idea of reading A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness sounded like a welcome escape from my daily life. It was a chance at real entertainment and I couldn't wait to crack it open. But when? It's a hefty book, a real bug-squisher, clocking in at 579 pages. I had counted the chapters and calculated how many naptimes it would take to read the whole thing before I began. I wondered if it'd be worth it. I made the leap before bed one Friday night and I didn't put it down for the next two days. Luckily, my husband was home to tend the hungry children I kept waving off with a, "Just let me finish this chapter.."
I was immediately drawn in by the love story. You know, boy meets girl -- if by "boy" you mean "vampire" and by "girl" you mean "witch" -- and against all odds, they fall in love. In fact, it's the odds that make it all the more provocative. Forbidden love! Is there anything more exciting? Probably forbidden love where magic is involved. And that's exactly what you have between Matthew, the centuries old, smoldering geneticist vampire, and Diana, the bold and brilliant historian and witch who has yet to realize her strength and discover her potential. Their worlds collide in Oxford's Bodleian Library, set in motion by an enchanted manuscript whose mystery isn't fully uncovered, even by the end of the book -- the first of the All Souls trilogy.
The book is steeped with imagery. It transported me to other places and times that I felt I knew intimately rather than from text on the page. But the pace of the story felt sluggish through the passages where I had to wade through wordy descriptions when all I wanted to know was are they or aren't they? Will he kiss her? Will he bite her? Are they ever going to do it? The supporting characters spiced up the drawn-out drama, however. They kept things lively and added an element of fun, making the suspense bearable. Still, I found myself thinking it'd be much more fun to watch the story on screen where the details are implicit rather than get lost in pages of minutiae.
A Discovery of Witches was a worthwhile read. It did just what I'd hoped it would: It took me far from diapers, laundry, meal-making and dishes. At first, I had to keep reminding myself to let go, suspend disbelief and enjoy the fantasy, but it got easier with each chapter. I don't think I'll be able to resist a second book.