Paranormal Fiction: A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

A vampire book for adults that isn’t written by Anne Rice? With witches and daemons as well? And it opens in Oxford. “What could be more fun?”, I asked myself. A Discovery of Witches has a very promising start. American Academic Diana Bishop is visiting the university to study the Bodleian’s collection of ancient alchemical manuscripts. One ordinary afternoon, she calls up Ashmole 782, and some very peculiar things occur – shimmering pages, weird illustrations, and, she can’t help but notice, spells and secret messages visible only to those who are in the know. Being a witch herself, descended from the infamous Bridget Bishop of Salem, MA, Diana’s in the know, though she’d rather not be and tries hard not to use her formidable powers. The instant she and 782 meet, the entire local community of others (i.e., nonhuman creatures) swarm around her, and not because they’re so excited for her. Diana is wary, but finds herself attracted to one of the others, a very ancient, very rich, and very handsome vampire, Matthew Clairmont. Long story short, they fall in love against all prohibitions, and go on all sorts of adventures to unearth the meaning of 782.

This vampire book is not suitable for adults, it’s way too inane. Diana has her doctorate and a very independent life, yet behaves like an adolescent with a crush on a rock star. Matthew wants to “feed” on Diana, but because he’s so in love, contains his bestial instincts. Other characters are equally as insipid and stereotypical. Surprisingly, since the author is a serious scholar herself, the history is mushy and given short shrift in favor of the mushy romance. Too lengthy, too wordy, too slow, and ultimately mindless and boring.


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