A Discovery of Witches (All Souls #1) by Deborah Harkness
I give this book a 4, almost a 4 ½, but I’m sticking with a solid 4.
This is the story of Diana Bishop, a witch who doesn’t want to be one. That in itself is enough to see that something somewhere along the way is going to go wrong. Diana uses magic even when she’s not trying to and accidentally opens a “Pandora’s Box” in the form of an alchemical manuscript, so of course all hell breaks loose. In this world where the peoples of the earth include humans, witches, vampires, and demons (though we’re not talking fallen angels), Diana is left running for her life while trying to figure out who she can trust, including the seductive vampire that’s latched on to her.
There is so much about this story I love, but the few little things I don’t like were enough to keep me from giving it a 5 star rating. First off, the plot is pretty good. I can relate to stories about self-identification and purpose; I wrote a story about that myself. What Deborah Harnkess has done with A Discover of Witches, I wish Stephanie Meyer could have done with Twilight. That’s not a put down to Meyer in anyway, I just prefer books written for adults. If I were a YA fanatic, I don’t think I’d like this book very much.
This book is beautifully written and very descriptive, but that’s actually one of my issues. I love vivid descriptions that pull you into a story and show you what your mind wants to see and Harkness has done that here, but sometimes she went too far. I don’t think it takes much imagination to figure out how to apply an adhesive strip (a ban-aid for those who I just lost). I could also tell that Harkness had done quite a bit of research to prepare for this publication or was already a student of pagan cultures and practices. I must admit I found that to be a little creepy, but I understand that it was necessary to tell the story and have it feel real.
With stories like this, I find that there is always an issue with action versus romance. The premise of the story is ideal for both, but they don’t always mesh well. This story it seems, leans more towards the theme of romance, at least to the extent of portraying a love that surpasses physical desire and is worth literally killing for and dying for. Don’t get me wrong, I liked that part of the story very much, but I do wish there had been more action. When there was an action scene, Harchness did not hold back. She did a very good job describing blows, blood, and reflexes; that’s why I wanted more.
The last and final reason, I couldn’t give this wonderful book a 5 star rating is a little petty, but it tugged at my brain the whole time I was enjoying the story. Harkness only acknowledges four entities in this story: humans, witches, vampires, and demons (again, not fallen angels), but on at least two occasions, she eludes to the presence or existence of some type of creature that may shape shift into a wolf or werewolf. The passages are so small and quick, you may not notice them at all, and the subject is never addressed. Was this intentional? I don’t know, but it bothers me still.
This is a good read for an adult couple as long as they are both into dark themes.