Blythe's Reviews > A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
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Apr 26, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: 2012-reads, didn-t-see-that-coming, i-totally-saw-that-coming, take-your-insta-love-and-leave, disappointments, read-reviewed, 2-stars, doesn-t-deserve-the-hype
Recommended for: See the last paragraph of my review.
Read from June 18 to 21, 2012

Eight of my friends gave this book five stars.
Ten gave it four stars.
Three gave it three stars.
No one gave it less than three stars.

Then there's me, giving this book two stars. The only explanation? I'm weird. There's not much I can say about this book, not in fear of spoiling something (honestly, I don't think there's much to spoil), but because nothing really happened, and I suppose that is my reason enough for not liking this book as I had hoped I would.

Similar to Hereafter, A Discovery of Witches is, in all honesty, a series of obstacles placed upon Diana and Matthew only to add stress to their relationship. And what a relationship it is! /end sarcasm\ I'm not sure I understand where you're coming from, Diana... At first, you try to avoid Matthew at all costs. Then, on the next page, you're flirting with him. Then (view spoiler) As you may have noticed, I've placed this book on my shelf entitled, "take-your-insta-love-and-leave", because, in a sense, their relationship was insta-love (something I'm not very fond of).

And, as much as fans may beg to differ, I thought Diana was uninteresting and weak. She's described as a brilliant woman, but I've failed to capture any of her brilliance when reading A Discovery of Witches. She may have been book smart, but she certainly was not street smart, and lacked any sufficient amount of common sense. She's in constant need of saving, and Matthew is always there to save his little damsel in distress. I value a strong, self-reliant heroine in literature, and I can honestly say, I don't believe Diana is one.

And as for Matthew, his similarity to a certain, significant other vampire of literature is startling (and here comes what I'm sure will upset fans of this book, and those who really like Matthew). If you hadn't caught on on my hint, the significant other vampire I was referring to is Edward Cullen. While Matthew doesn't have the creepy, stalker qualities of Edward Cullen, he does share quite a few others with him, such as:

1: He's extremely rich;
2: He's stunningly gorgeous;
3: He has a large family, though not all members in his family are of his blood;
4: He is over protective towards Diana, but, like Bella, Diana needs his protection;
5: He has an overwhelming desire to eat his love interest.

and I'm sure there are probably other little similarities, but those are all that I had picked up.

I felt that A Discovery of Witches' saving grace, as well as its downfall, was its writing. The writing itself is excellent, which is really why I won't be giving this book one star, but it's also a very large reason why it received only two stars from me, because it is incredibly slow, and focuses on extremely asinine things. Harkness incorporates a wide variety of different topics in A Discovery of Witches, most unnecessary, and while her knowledge of said topics was impressive, it made for an extremely boring book. If you don't mind seemingly endless descriptions of wine (lots and lots of seemingly endless descriptions of wine), food (lots and lots of descriptions of food), an overwhelming use of Latin and French (and sometimes them mixed together to form one language), and a ton of history and science, you may just enjoy A Discovery of Witches.

Clearly, this book is for a lot of people, and clearly, it's not for me. However, if you don't mind reading a slow book that does eventually get to the point much later on in the story, if you don't mind a romance completely taking over the main plot, and you don't mind being bombarded with unnecessary information, I think this will be a book you'd enjoy.
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Reading Progress

06/18/2012 page 15
3.0% "Hmm.. Very interesting first chapter. I'm intrigued." 3 comments
06/18/2012 page 30
5.0% "If one thing's for certain, it's that this woman sure can write."
06/20/2012 page 129
22.0% "When is something actually going to happen? So far all Diana has done is read, eat, and avoid Matthew." 1 comment
06/20/2012 page 141
24.0% "This is what I don't understand: if you know someone has an overwhelming desire to eat you, why do you continue to see him regularly?" 4 comments
06/20/2012 page 174
30.0% "[Tasting wine]

"This tastes just like you!" he said.

Heh... Charming..." 1 comment
06/21/2012 page 579
100.0% "Well, I've finally finished it. And while it only took me three days to finish this monster, it felt like much more." 2 comments
04/12/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-23 of 23) (23 new)

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Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews) so is Anna Dressed in Blood!


Blythe I know! I'm so mad - I bought ADiB a few weeks ago!


Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews) I hate hate HATE when that happens :(


Shiloh This had so much promise. And then it failed. (IMHO--you might like it.)


Blythe Yeah, I've heard the same thing, too, Shiloh. It seems to be either a hit or miss with some people. Let's hope it's a hit with me!


Kristi, A Book Fanatic This is on my summer reading list -- I keep putting it off because I am afraid I will feel just like you. I think it is either a love it or hate it book.


Blythe I agree, it's a love or hate book. There seems to be a middle, because I didn't like it, but I really think Harkness' writing was this book's only saving grace from being a one star book.


Shiloh I'm trying to remember why I gave it as much as three stars, and I think it's because the writing was pretty good and it held so much promise in the beginning. And maybe because it was one of my early GR reviews and I hadn't learned how to be brutally honest yet. XD


Justine I gave this 4 stars after I read it a few months ago. But here I was, reading your review and agreeing with a lot of your points, and now I don't know why I gave it 4 stars xDD


message 10: by MLE (new) - added it

MLE I have friends who love it, but I just couldn't get into it.


message 11: by Blythe (last edited Jun 22, 2012 04:09PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Blythe Emily wrote: "I have friends who love it, but I just couldn't get into it."

That's the same with me. So many of my friends absolutely adored this book... Then there's me. They're all having a "We Love A Discovery of Witches!" party, and then I'm just standing there outside, staring in from the windows, longing to partaaaaaaaaaaay. Oh well. It's reassuring to know I'm not the only one who didn't fall head over heels with this book.

Justine wrote: "I gave this 4 stars after I read it a few months ago. But here I was, reading your review and agreeing with a lot of your points, and now I don't know why I gave it 4 stars xDD"

Hahaha! Yeah, sometimes I just go through my bookshelves and see that I rated a book 4 or 5 stars and I just think, "Really? I gave that 4 or 5 stars?"

Shiloh wrote: "I'm trying to remember why I gave it as much as three stars, and I think it's because the writing was pretty good and it held so much promise in the beginning. And maybe because it was one of my ea..."

I could totally relate. Just recently I had to go through my read shelf and lower some of my ratings. Some of the books I gave four stars then probably would have gotten three stars from me now. (And I gave anything I liked five stars before I started reviewing.)


message 12: by Alexandra (new)

Alexandra Thank you! I had this on my mental "maybe try it" list, and you've let me know this is probably not for me. I'm not a big fan of romances anyway, and insta-love, yuck. Appreciate your review.


Blythe Thank you, Janis! It seems I'm one of the few who think negatively of A Discovery of Witches, but if you're not a big fan of romances and insta-love, then you most likely won't be a fan of this book either. I hate insta-love, and I'm not normally a fan of romance, but if it's done correctly I am.


message 14: by Rachelle (new)

Rachelle You know, I keep trying to read this book, and I can never make it past a couple pages. The main character, who narrates in first person, just seems a little self-absorbed for me. Idk. I just can't read it.


message 15: by Bren (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bren GUILTY


motherofboys247 "If you don't mind seemingly endless descriptions of wine (lots and lots of seemingly endless descriptions of wine), food (lots and lots of descriptions of food), an overwhelming use of Latin and French (and sometimes them mixed together to form one language), and a ton of history and science, you may just enjoy A Discovery of Witches."

THIS. How I hate inane descriptions that have nothing to do with anything. I hated their insta-relationship and I just got so bored I never finished.


Blythe Laura wrote: ""If you don't mind seemingly endless descriptions of wine (lots and lots of seemingly endless descriptions of wine), food (lots and lots of descriptions of food), an overwhelming use of Latin and F..."

I don't always hate inane descriptions, and most of the time I appreciate them, but only when they add something to the story and the world-building. This wasn't the case in A Discovery of Witches, unfortunately, so I definitely agree with you.

Rachelle wrote: "You know, I keep trying to read this book, and I can never make it past a couple pages. The main character, who narrates in first person, just seems a little self-absorbed for me. Idk. I just can't..."

Understandable. I probably would have given up on this early on if I wasn't ensured by countless friends of mine that it does eventually get better. Spoiler alert: it didn't.


Carrie DItto.


Michael This book was not my cup of tea, either. I've actively encouraged others not to read it whenever possible (for example, my mother in law keeps asking about it and I tell her there are better books out there). I felt like it was more a Mary Sue wish fulfillment thing that an actual novel.


message 20: by Amy (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy You're not weird. I didn't like it either. I don't understand all the hype.


message 21: by Liz (new)

Liz I thought about reading this, but now I'm glad I haven't, after reading some of these reviews, including yours. I've noticed a lot of people comparing it to Twilight, and my theory is it started as fan fiction, just like Shades of Grey and Gabriel's Inferno (or whatever that new book is). It seems to be a new phenomena, one I don't like, and makes me leery of reading new authors.


Debra I tried this and rejected it after about 5 pages. I'm a part-time bookseller, and don't understand how They decide what book is going to be hot.


Angel Thank god I'm not the only one! I couldn't even get through the book!


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