A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) | book review


This books was such a disappointment. I actually would not recommend it at all. The author is too detailed on minor characters, events that don't matter, and plot lines that should not have even existed in the first place. The book is absolutely all over the place with at least 5 different things going on at once. I think that in an attempt to be something different than the recently popular vampire novels this book was written to include everything and the kitchen sink!


Title: A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1)

Author: Deborah Harkness

Summary: "A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together. 

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell. 

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism." (Goodreads)

Spoiler-free Review

Where I do even begin with this review. It's so hard to review this book because there are a million things to talk about. Let's just start at the beginning--I actually started reading this book in January of 2016. As a movement I am trying this year, I want to start finishing a whole bunch of books that I started and then just set down for some reason. Back in 2016 I remember reading reviews with negative thoughts about this book and rolling my eyes.

The book started off really good I thought--I liked the descriptiveness and thorough detail given about Diana and her schooling and her routines, but as the book went on I expected this level of detail to die down a bit. You expect an author to give specifics about environments and characters at the beginning of the book in order to establish a connection between you and what this book is going to be about. But at least half way through reading you would then expect that all this detail would slow down and the main plot would begin. That was not the case with Harkness's writing. She continued to be overly detailed to the point where I felt like I was flipping through page after page about specific smells, imagery, etc, on and on and on. I became bored and lost with the point of this book, and that's why I set it down.

Now, a year later, I said to myself, "Okay, it really can't be that bad. You can make it through this." I was so very wrong. Since nothing really happened in the first 200 pages, I was able to pick this book right back and start reading like I never left. But now, it seemed like there was just too much going on! It was exhausting to read page after page trying to figure out what the plot was and where this book was going. Here are all the plot lines: the mysterious and completely un-understandable Ashmole 782 manuscript, the forbidden love affair between a witch and a vampire, the possible extinction of all supernatural beings, an evil group called the Congregation who wants to know everything about Diana's power, the tracing of Diana's DNA and what really happened to her parents, and the threat of an all out witch/vampire war. Like really? Can you even keep up with that?

Through all of this, my biggest complaint will always be the over the top detail that Harkness used throughout the entire book. She kept describing how much Diana loved tea and Matthew loved wine, we went into detail about Diana's yoga pants and how they made her feel, they took so many baths that their water bill had to be in the thousands, and we heard every single backstory about every single character no matter how big or small. Some people really can appreciate detail--I'm sure of it--but this level of detail had so many drawbacks. The flow of the book was stopped over and over again to tell me something that barely mattered to the plot and rarely even interested me.

I honestly would not recommend this book to anyone. It seems like this book is either an absolute love or an absolute hate, but I definitely don't think its worth the $10-15 you might risk to find out it's not the book for you. However, the funny thing is, I might actually finish this trilogy (just because I'm a perfectionist and want completeness)--maybe some years down the road.

Check out my March Reads post to see more books that I am planning on completing before this month ends. Do you have any suggestions for me?