Warning: there are SLIGHT spoilers in this review
Book 1 of the All Souls trilogy, Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches jumps right in to an intriguing story. Diana, a witch who’s in denial of her powers, comes across a long lost manuscript. Not understanding how sought after this book is, she finds herself in a surrounded by other witches, vampires and daemons who want to get to her. And forget Edward Cullen, Matthew Clairmont – the vampire in this book – is so much sexier and intriguing than Bella’s beau.
For the most part, I enjoyed this book. The historical aspect of the story was interesting, a history well thought out by Harkness. I’d say this novel could probably be divided up into three parts. I couldn’t get enough of the story between Diana and Matthew in the first third of the book. Their story was believable (as far as vampires and witches are concerned). The second part, where the two star-crossed lovers are at his home in France is a little less believable. It’s at this point that it seems a bit juvenile, compared to the previous portion of the story. The dialogue, the behaviour and the “romantic” conversations just seemed so cheesy. The characters personalities seemed to have shifted so much from one part to the next. The third section involves more of a supporting cast of characters, pretty much most of the people you were introduced to earlier on. My biggest issue I have with this book is some of the inconsistency. At times, the story and plot seem to jump all over the place. It almost seems like it’s written by several different people, the style varying so greatly. Also, the inconsistency of the main character, Diana Bishop. Or, more like the undoing of her courage and bravery. She was such a strong character in the beginning, and the later 2/3 of the book, she ends up being SUCH damsel in distress. When she first meets Matthew Clairmont, she was a strong independent woman, and once he’s more involved in her life (and in the story), she turns into a whimpering shell of a woman. At so many points I wanted to shake her and yell SNAP OUT OF IT! The underlying story of a potential war that’s to be unleashed between vampires, witches and daemons because of unrequited & unconventional love is a constant driving force for the book, even though the theme of accepting an “interspecies” relationship comes across a bit preachy at times.
It’s interesting that as I was reading this, some of the “fantasy” parts of the book (like vampires & witches) I could believe. As soon as it got more talk of time travelling, I thought, “Woah. C’mon. Seriously??” I guess everyone has limits to how much they’ll accept as “believable” and suspending their disbeliefs!
That being said though, I really did enjoy the book. This being the first of a trilogy, it’s obviously setting the groundwork for what, I’m sure, will be a captivating second installment. The way this novel leaves off, my interest is definitely piqued to see what happens next. I just hope Diana gets her damn courage and identity back! I can’t stand another heroine who’s as whiny & useless in the company of a vampire as Bella Swan.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ (3.5/5 stars)