Harkness' A Discovery of Witches: Another Trilogy To Get Hooked On

BlogHer Review

I have been a reading fool lately and you can imagine how thrilled I was when I arrived home a couple of weeks ago and saw a package from Penguin on my back doorstep quickly realizing that I’d been offered a chance to participate in BlogHer’s Book Club. I opened up the package and realized that the book I’d been sent to read and review was Deborah Harkness' A Discovery of Witches.

I read this book in nine days which is no small feat considering it is almost 600 pages and I’m a slow reader. I’ve been working full-time including helping proctor EOGs at school (and they don’t allow you to bring any reading material into the testing site). The four and five hour EOGs shortened our lunch breaks and made it hard for me to keep up my reading at lunch like usual and only left me reading time in the evenings. Anyway, the book was pretty good so it made it easy to get through 600 pages in little more than a week.

Probably my most favorite thing about the book was learning to love this whole new world of the paranormal. Yes, like many of you, I went into the Harry Potter series thinking, “I don’t know about witches and wizards” and into the Twilight series thinking, “I’m not sure about this vampire thing” but I ended up loving both stories obsessively. In Harkness’ novel, not only do you learn about vampires and witches but also other creatures called daemons and that aspect certainly peeked my curiosity. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

First, I’ll give you some things I didn’t particularly like in this book. There were numerous characters. Sometimes it was almost hard to keep up. Not so many like the vast number of people in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo books but enough characters that I could see how a few might be important later on in this series but at least for the purposes of this first book in the All Souls Trilogy, I couldn’t really see how they were so important. Mostly I just noticed this at the end where characters were introduced and not developed fully. You know we will be learning more about them in the second and third books.

I also didn’t realize upon receipt that this book was the first in a trilogy but I figured it out quickly as I reached the halfway point in the story. There were so many hints that you knew it would be a sequel and much at the end was left open-ended. I love this technique in both books and movies, but in A Discovery of Witches just a bit too much was left unanswered at the end.

Additionally, I’m not a history buff, but if you are a fan of the past then you will love the rich historical facts that are included in the story. If not, then it’s easy to get past. No worries.

Furthermore, like the Twilight series, the book is about witches, vampires and other creatures that you would typically stereotype as being old-fashioned. In this book that is the case as you would expect. Unfortunately, vampires using modern day technology such as “typing away on the plastic keys of his laptop” and saying things like “my mother is on speed dial on my cell phone” just sat a little weird with me like it did in Twilight. Easy to overlook, but still… strange.

Now, let’s talk about what truly made me love this book. Believe me when I say “loved.” There was a lot to love about A Discovery of Witches.

First of all, it is such a sweet, sweet love story. The main character, Diana says at one point, “Loving Matthew was much more like coming into port than heading out into a storm.” There were too many romantic one liners to list but very, very sweet Bella and Edward-like story.

I also loved that the book takes place in just over 40 days which seems to me to be a short time period for a book but maybe that’s normal. I don’t know. Anyway, I loved that so much can happen in such a short time span.

Most of all, as I mentioned before, I loved the fantasy side of the book. The fictional yet oddly realistic creatures make it easy to get lost in what you’re reading and let your imagination truly take you to the places in the story. This is certainly something a working mother of two small kids can appreciate. Calgon, take me away.

Considering the fact that I’m still pondering the story every chance I get some three days after finishing the book, and that’s my one true sign of a good story, I’d say I eagerly await the second book in the series due out in 2012.

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