A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Genre: Paranormal Romance
When I picked up A Discovery of Witches I was hoping for a good, non-cheesy paranormal romance (yes those do exist) I enjoyed the whole mythology of the story. I thought it was interesting the way vampires were tied to wolves in behavior, but mostly I thought this book was disappointing, and also annoying.
For me this book kind of broke down into three parts. First there is the whole historian aspect. While we are in this part of the book the lead female, Diana spends most of her time researching old manuscripts. When she isn't doing that she's running, rowing, and doing yoga. She pretends she isn't a witch and doesn't practice witchcraft because of some things that happened in her past, except of course when she wants to get a book off the shelf, which didn’t make much sense. Mostly this part of the book is ok except there are way too many details that could have been edited out of the story.
The major complaints I have about this part of the book would be first, the yoga scene. Yes, the Vampire in this book takes his lady friend on a yoga date. Imagine it, a whole room full of vampires, witches and daemons...doing yoga...to Rocket Man. This was not meant to be funny. I'm sure I will giggle to myself and shake my head anytime I hear the song Rocket Man from now on. After that scene I honestly wasn't sure if I could take the book seriously.
Second, the other complaint would be that Diana throws on drab clothing and doesn't bother with makeup, then has the annoying habit of thinking about how plain and unattractive she is. There is one point when she looks in the mirror and notes how much she looks like her mother and then wonders how her mother got her pale eyebrows and lashes to stand out. Well Diana, it's called makeup, surely you’ve heard of it? If a woman is perfectly happy with herself without makeup and dressed in drab clothing, that's fine with me. Just don't do those things and then complain about the result.
When we get to the second part of the book we have the vampire history and lore. We are whisked away to another place and it almost feels like another time because it's so isolated. I have a slight issue with the consistency of the main character in this part of the book. The main character is no longer into running, rowing, and yoga. I get that rowing is out of the question because of where they are, but she doesn't even seem to think about it or miss it, not the running either. In fact she doesn't do those two things for the whole rest of the book, and barely any yoga either. It just seemed to be such a big part of who she was in the first part of the book. Instead now she is suddenly a horsewoman. I wouldn't have a problem with this if it had been mentioned before as part of who she was.
I did begin to enjoy the book more at this point though, mostly because it was less tedious. I enjoyed the glimpses into the past lives of some of the characters. A lot of Matthew's history is uncovered here. I wanted to like Matthew, and sometimes I did, but throughout the book he tells Diana what to do, makes decisions for her without telling her, and keeps secrets from her that are relevant to her and to their relationship. He basically treats her like a child. He isn't the only character in this part of the book that does this to her though. There is the housekeeper at his place in France (And by the way, why would a vampire want to spend her whole life being a housekeeper?) that does it too.
***Minor spoiler here. If you don't want to read it skip down to the next paragraph. Matthew and Diana eventually declare their love for each other and make an oath that, in vampire society means they are married. There is a very nice romantic scene that begins and then suddenly I'm sitting here blinking, not believing what I've just read. After getting married and all kinds of foreplay Matthew says they aren’t going to have sex? Did he really just say that? After that whole romantic scene that appears to be leading up to it? I cannot believe any woman would put up with this. None of his excuses or reasons make much sense either. No man in his right mind would do this and it continues this way throughout the whole rest of the book.
When we finally get to what I think of as the third part of the book, we are in America at the house Diana grew up in. This part of the book almost feels like watching an episode of Bewitched or reading Harry Potter with the enchanted house and all the ghosts and spells. I actually liked this section of the book the best. I wish the whole book had been like this. As it is I didn't really think this part matched the tone of the rest of the book. The worst part about this section of the book is that we now get Diana’s aunt also treating her like she is a child. She tells Matthew when they decide to go for a walk outside that Diana needs to put on warmer clothes. She doesn't even tell Diana, she tells Matthew like she's a child and he's her father or something. I mean really, the woman is 36 years old! She doesn't need other people to tell her how to dress or when to eat or when to sleep. This stuff happens constantly in this book. There are times when Diana pushes back over these things, but then we are back to the same behavior all over again. Throughout the book Matthew tells Diana that she is brave, that she is like a lion, that she is willful, but I don't see it. She just lets everyone push her around and tell her what to do. One other nit-picky thing is when we discovered Diana was a horsewoman in the last part of the book, she says it's because she grew up on a farm around horses, but the whole time we are on the farm not one horse is mentioned. I think Diana is just good at what she needs to be good at for whatever is happening in the story.
So to sum it all up, I liked parts of this book, but I thought it was overly long and needed to be edited down. I thought the personality and interests of the main character should have been more consistent throughout the story. It kind of felt like the author wasn't sure what kind of book she wanted it to be as feel of the story seemed to change from one location to the next. Also I'm tired of rude alpha type males in books that think the women they love are helpless and boss them around. I will not be continuing on with this series.
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