This book has some things going for it: intriguing mystery, interestingly sketched characters, references to medieval and renaissance literature, etc... however, it is bogged down by a sappy and absurd romance between the two central characters. This treatment serves to flatten them out into 'cardboard cutouts' and make them very silly. I found myself rolling my eyes at yet another 'but I love him' or goofy description of what the main character was wearing. The character treatments are riddled with cliches: wealthy, suave French vampire (a la Anne Rice), scrappy on the outside mushy on the inside central character Dianna Bishop who needs a good man to help her to find her secret powers. I found myself thinking of her like I remember Nancy Drew from my grade school years -- she can ride a horse, write a dissertation, run a six minute mile, seduce a vampire with her magic who-who, and god knows what else? world peace? Give me a break! There are so many repeated lines about the vampire man's protective shielding of his woman, Dianna's uber, super magic, their undying love, their pet names for each other -- gag. This book should have been edited to half it's length and all the cliche sappy goo removed. Ms. Harkness does not trust her reader to get to know the characters through what they do, she hits us over the head with bombastic 'twoo-wov'. I just finished Suzanna Clarkes masterwork 'Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norris' which makes this novel look like a grocery store paperback... sigh. Maybe she will correct this stuff on her 2nd novel?
I love a good story, especially one with a bit of a dark side.
My ten year old daughter listened to this and loved it. She wrote a review for the second book in the series but because she loved it so much I thought I should write one for the first book for her. I have not listened to the series yet, so it might seem odd to write a review for it. It is, but... I am only stating that she LOVED the book. She asks me every time we look for a new book for her if I've listened to this one yet. I keep saying, "No, but I will." To which she says, "You better!" She's a good judge of books. If it's not interesting, she won't listen.
I feel like the author is trying way too hard to cram in a bunch of information that doesn't add to the story but instead seems intended to showcase just how much she knows about everything (you don't need to go into detail about the flow of poses in a yoga class, or what era every single piece of furniture in the main character's home is from, or have it described a million different ways how remarkably unamerican the main character is after living in England for so long... I get it! Yoga! Old Furniture! Expat! Let's move on with the actual story!)
Trim a lot of the fat. I know it sounds awful, but I feel like with some tighter editing it would have been an entertaining listen/read. Part of telling a great story is knowing how much is right and how much is rambling. When I realized the book was 24 hrs long, my heart fell. I commute about 10 hrs per wk, and I welcome long, entertaining books, but... I'm only human...
She makes everything entirely too dramatic. I never thought someone would try to romantically linger on words for something as prosaic as driving up a hill.
Buy a different audiobook to listen to.
I hate to sound mean. I was just really disappointed in this book, especially after seeing it highly recommended in so many places. I'm not some literature snob who thinks anything after Dickens or Hardy should just wither up and die (Far from the Madding Crowd is awesome, though). I mean, I love lots of different books, even Twilight! Take what you will from that last statement, I'll defend it to the end of time, or the end of A Discovery of Witches, whichever comes first. Maybe the book is better but I can't recommend the audiobook. Really glad it was on sale.
The idea is cute, but the story is too long and filled with plenty of unnecessary details. I liked both Diana and Matthew, but they never fully come to life for me. The ending is abrupt though the story was dragging itself for about 20 hours... But it looks like it's the first book in the series. I doubt I will listen to the following books, though I wish the heroes the best on their journey and the quest for the right to love freely.
An ancient manuscript, modern-day witches, vampires, demons... all the elements of an absorbing read, if not great literature, you'd think. But A Discovery of Witches manages to make it all ho-hum, poor to no character development, no real sense of danger, a toothless vampire who takes our heroine, a witch reluctant to use her powers, for lattes and to yoga classes. And endless tedious details, obscure Latin quotes, and references to the character's smells, left me wondering near the end of the first installment, if anything was ever going to happen. The love story left me cold, the mystery failed to excite me and I had to give it up, especially when I read in another review that the ending is not really a resolution, but instead paves the way for the next book...
I listen to books when I'm at work or doing chores. I prefer history and fantasy. My favorite audio book is Going Postal by Terry Pratchett.
I've been searching for ages for supernatural fantasy books that aren't completely focused on some supposedly powerful woman who spends a lot of time putting on clothes and being protected by dark and mysterious men. I have been disappointed yet again. I don't know if the author was trying to take all the standard tropes and prove that if you wrote them well it'd be good or if she saw the recent releases list and decided to cash in. I don't know why this book had so much PR wasted on it when it is so very mediocre and tries nothing original beyond taking place in a slightly different setting and having a longer sentence structure than most other books in this genre. Everything that is bad about this influx of chic lit trying to masquerade as fantasy is here from the whiny helpless heroine to the repetitive descriptions of every single outfit she wears.
Baltimore book lover
The book is narrated well, but the story has a very frustrating stop and start pace to it. It's about a non-practicing witch who comes across an enchanted manuscript while doing research at Oxford University. After she finds it, demons, vampires and other witches start bothering her. One vampire takes it upon himelf to be her protector and, of course, he's sexy and mysterious and, of course, they fall in love. The parts about the manuscript are pretty intersting. The parts of the two main characters falling in love is so slow. Whenever they are alone together I press fast forward. Another problem I have is that we are told that the main character is one of the most powerful witches ever and super brilliant and all that, but she never does anything brilliant or use her powers or show us in any way that she is who we're told she is. She actually has a DNA test that indicates all the powers she has but all she does is spend too much time describing a yoga class or a horse-back riding trip. Perhaps all the good stuff is being saved for a sequel. I'm not finding out, though. Waste of a credit.
24 hours of this novel was about 12 hours too much. I fell asleep several times, and didn't miss anything, based on where I rejoined the narrative. If you must read this, check it out from a library, don't waste money. When the author gets a good editor, she may be readable. (After she cuts out the lengthy nonessential passages about food, exercise, wine, old books that don't push the story forward, just wallow in Knowledge). The last third of the book was the best, but be prepared -- evidently the story is a trilogy, so just as something interesting happens, you have to wait for the next book. The witch is supposed to be "special," but she comes across as irritating, dependent, aggressive passive, and gooey when faced with cold physical beauty in a Vampire that doesn't want to consummate a marriage because "there will be plenty of time for that." Danger. Run away!
Why all the unnecessary back story? Why did it take so long for the story to really develop? Why the insipid romance? Oh boy, I really wanted to like this one. But I just couldn't make it happen. What a disappointment.
I hate to give up on an audiobook, but A Discovery of Witches finally broke me about halfway through. While I thought the narrator was just fine - she does well with the various accents and genders she's called upon to voice - I couldn't bear the poor storytelling. The storyline makes very little progress. Honestly, I know little more about where the story is going than what I learned form the publisher's summary before I purchased the book. I enjoy detail and I love a long novel. However, endless words are spent telling rather than showing. When Deborah Harkness is not describing ad nauseum the feeling Diana gets when she knows Mathew is looking at her, she's gushing over one of Mathew's flawless outfits or the contents of one of his homes. Harkness seems most interested in Witch and Vampire love. She appears to have no interest in doing anthing interesting with her characters. Diana is an annoyingly-reluctant witch. Mathew is a VINO (Vampire In Name Only). He doesn't need to drink human blood, keep out of the sun or sleep in a coffin. They take yoga classes together and eat lavish meals. Occasionally another witch or a demon interact with them. That's pretty much it.