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discovery witchesTitle: A Discovery of Witches

Author: Deborah Harkness

Publisher: Penguin (2011)

Pages: 579p

Bought at: Periplus Setiabudi Bandung (IDR 55k)


Diana Bishop is a young scholar from Yale in the field of alchemy history, and has a grant to do research in Oxford. Diana came from a family of witches, but she tried so hard to deny her fate, and almost never uses magic in her life. Until one day, she encounters a long lost manuscript in Oxford library- a manuscript filled by magic and said to have an answer of the everlasting questions: the creation of the world, humans, witches, vampires and daemons.

This discovery lures all kinds of creatures into Oxford- and into Diana’s life, forcing her to face her fate as a witch. One of the creatures is an ancient, rich and handsome vampire name Matthew. And despite all the odds, Diana and Matthew quickly realized that it is their destiny to try finding out about the secrets of the manuscript, and journeying into the past together.

Why this book does actually have a good premise:

-Interesting topics about alchemy, history, and magic. I always love history and alchemy, and it seems this book has pretty good idea about the mystery of creation and its relation with alchemy.

-Lovely description of the setting: especially Oxford, I love how the old little campus town had been described in details- I guess it’s because the author- who was also a scholar, had been there before.

And why this book does not actually live to my expectation:

– Typical characters: a witch who was in denial and didn’t want to use her power, turned out has the greatest power ever. Plus, a vampire who is handsome, rich, smart, successful and dangerous. Sounds familiar, Twilight lovers? 😀

– Forbidden love: it’s a cliche, but actually I can accept cliches, if it’s been written well. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any of the romance plot in this book fascinating at all. It’s too predictable, slow, lots of unnecessary details and boring descriptions. And I can’t help but hating both the main characters.

– Another cliche: Over protective/ possessive vampire and the witch who always rejected his help- trying too hard to prove that she’s not a damsel in distress- but always failed!

– Too many unnecessary details: boring everyday mundane routines, described in long and torturing ways: taking bath, having breakfast, taking nap, rowing boat, running, etc etc- it’s too descriptive without being interesting.

– Lots and lots of repetitions: For example, Harkness loved to describe what Diana wears everyday. But sadly, her choices of clothes are not interesting at all! Sweater, legging, socks- always the same, it’s pointless to even know what she wears that particular day. The same happened when Harkness described Diana’s activities – very details and boring. For example, when Diana is rowing, Harkness always explains the small steps she takes: taking boat, getting into one, rowing, going back to the boat house, etc without any important incidents. It’s meaningless!

– Slow and predictable plot. For a book that wants to capture its readers with the mystery and secret stories, it successfully failed. The mystery is too slow, there are almost no important incidents or any fast paced actions. Even the fighting scenes could make me yawn, and I lost count of how many times I actually rolled my eyes while reading this book. Probably the fact that the author is a professor explained a bit how this book turned out more like a report than a novel.

In short, this book was failed to impress me- I know that paranormal romance is not actually my cup of tea- but I tried it anyway. This book only convinced me more that this genre is really not my thing, and I won’t read the sequels. Even though, knowing the author had been a Fulbright scholar before, broke my heart a little bit!

Submitted for What’s in a Name 6 Challenge for “Lost/Found” category.