Arni Vidar Bjorgvinsson's Reviews > A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
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Apr 27, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: kindle
Read from April 27 to May 02, 2011

It's quite difficult to gather my thoughts well enough to manage a review. I don't know how or where to begin.

I started this book 4 evenings ago, and all I really knew about it was that it was a Witches and Vampires book. Fine, I'll give that a go. As the pages wore on, however, I realized that I was barely making any headway on the % counter. Upon checking, I then found that this book is almost 800 pages long, which is more than almost all of my fantasy DTB's. Wow.

I started reading this book just after midnight, thinking I might see how it started before I got some sleep. I think it was somewhere around the 3-5% mark that I noticed that even though I was tired I did not want to stop reading. So not stop is what I did.... I just kept on reading for 7 hours straight, until my alarm went off and tried to wake me. Oops, I'd forgotten to sleep...

It has been a very long time since I have read a book that so captivated me and enthralled me. From those early 3-5% it just starts building and building and grabbing a hold of you, refusing to let go.
I've read the book, now, in four long sittings, and the only reason I didn't read it all in one sitting is because my body couldn't handle it and I needed to work.

I will not go too much into the actual contents of the book, since experiencing it all was a pleasure I wish all of you to experience unblemished by my spoilers.
That being said, this is a paranormal romance story, which should on it's own turn me flying as fast and far away as I could muster my body, but it is so beautifully crafted and the romance is so 'mild', that it wasn't a bother at all. Quite to the contrary, the romance is the glue that keeps the story going.

This book is one of the few that I give my 5 stars... the mark of perfection... an indication that it could not have been better. Now begins the long wait for the next installment.... a year or more away from us all.
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Reading Progress

31.0% "This is quite an amazing book. I began reading at around 2%, and now it's 6 hours and 200 pages later. I just couldn't stop reading and I've read through the night. Reluctantly stopping to kill my alarm and attempt some sleep :)"
51.0% "At first I thought I was getting into a Paranormal Romance novel, which I guess it is to some extent, but there's just so much more to it than that. I'm really liking this book." 4 comments
77.0% "Alas, sleep yet eludes the weary reader, spellbound by the tome that ensnared him. How heavy his eyelids, how gaping his maw, as the body demands it's own prolonged moment of solitude. Let his mind be liberated from the luring words, so that he may rest peacefully and fortify him self for what surely must come much too soon; the morrow." 3 comments

Comments (showing 1-50 of 52) (52 new)

Melanie Thank God. Now I can tell Jim that another man read it after we suckered him into reading it. He has been feeling traumatized.

Arni Vidar Bjorgvinsson LOL.. you saying it sucks, then? :D

Melanie No, everyone has liked it. He was just afraid we had talked him into reading a chick book because no other men admitted to reading it. ;-)

Arni Vidar Bjorgvinsson Hah, I'll make sure to admit it fully, even if it's a good piece of chick lit.

Melanie I told Jim. He feels much better now.

Bambi Unbridled I'm starting it today... I am glad to see you are liking it Arni!

Kelly Your review captured exactly how I am feeling reading this book. I am 200 pages in and I find it intoxicating...that never really happens to me with books no matter how much I love them. Great review!

Arni Vidar Bjorgvinsson Kelly wrote: "I am 200 pages in and I find it intoxicating"

Oh, just you wait.. you're only just beginning :D

Glad you like the review, thank you.

Kelly I usually have no discipline with books I love (I want to swallow them whole in one sitting), but I am pacing myself with this one because I'm enjoying the journey so much...don't want to eat it all in one bite - haha!

I just finished another book that was long and absorbing involving vampire lore, not light reading, very cerebral and detailed. I really liked it. Anyway, for what it's worth it is called The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.

Happy Reading!

Nicole Burgoz I feel the same way :)
Bought it Monday in Bahrain at the airport, started reading the same afternoon. Didn't really stop until 11pm, same the next day and today I should be finished *sigh* :)

Michelle Lovely review.

Arni Vidar Bjorgvinsson Thank you Michelle :)

Paula Thank you for succinctly describing the effect the book had on me! I have never been one to use the "couldn't put it down" phrase because it's never been the case...until this book. I stayed up until 4am to finish the book and got up at 7am to go to work. But I don't regret it at all.

message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks. You've convinced me, I've added it to the top of my to-read pile. :)

Arni Vidar Bjorgvinsson Beth wrote: "Thanks. You've convinced me, I've added it to the top of my to-read pile. :)"

Well, I hope you have plenty of time to read for the next few days :)

Kirsty I completely agree with the couldnt put it down part i can wait till the next installment is released i too was perplexed at first with the percentage read not going down as quick as it usually does for me lol. Thanks for the review!

Robin Alves Lol! I'm still making my way through the book. I wish I had read this on a vacation. I don't want to stop reading. Can't wait to read the rest of your review.

message 18: by Tatiana (new) - added it

Tatiana This review was great I'm going to purchase it immediately!

Arni Vidar Bjorgvinsson Glad to hear it Tatiana. I am sure you won't regret it :)

message 20: by Deb (new) - rated it 3 stars

Deb The hardcover version is 579 pages but feels twice as long.

Irene Hollimon I had the same experience with length! The book is on my ereader so I really had no idea how long it was and I kept wondering when I was going to finish it. It's a good thing though because I ended up liking the book. Normally, I like my books quite a bit shorter- a half or a third the length. If I had seen it in a book store I would have dismissed it because of that. So, it's a lucky thing I picked it up in ebook form instead. : )

Yehudith you convinced me to read it. thank you

Arni Vidar Bjorgvinsson You're welcome.

The next book comes out in July! We're almost there! :D But then of course we'll probably have to wait for the third book for another year. :/

message 24: by Pat (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pat Arni, thank you for your was the 'nudge I needed to read it....I'd been eyeing it on Amazon for some time. I"m a third of the way through...Can't put it down...reading all night...and only stopped to preorder the sequel. I've called up from Wikipedia pictures of All Souls College and the Selden End of the Duke Humphries Reading Room, the Radcliffe Camera...and the evocation of scent throughout the novel seems to increase my visceral experience. I've made ample use of my Kindle's connection to Wiki and dictionary with this one...nothing wrong with expanding your knowledge while tucked up with a page turner...

Arni Vidar Bjorgvinsson Hah! Having fun AND learning... that's what we call a Win-Win :D

Melanie Arni, I was going to ask if you are looking for the next one, but I see from your post above that you are. I can't wait.

Arni Vidar Bjorgvinsson Not looking for it much.. it's sitting on a computer somewhere. :D

My big question is whether I should read it now, get all excited again and then have to wait another year, or perhaps if I should just not read it right away and wait for the third book to come out before reading the two of them then.

Melanie I know the feeling. I am not a patient woman. I love discovering older series so I can read them back to back. I have even been known to deliberately wait to read books from trilogies until I have all three.

Arni Vidar Bjorgvinsson That's what I did with the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series. Only problem with that is that I haven't begun it yet :D

message 30: by Pat (last edited Mar 31, 2012 12:10PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pat Arni, I finished it in three days too. I don't know if I can stand waiting for the auto-delivery of the second book! I feel completely engaged in the world of this author. I think that some background in the history and literature bring an added enjoyment to the work...and I found myself wishing I was more familiar with alchemy...but the second book takes place in a time I do have some familiarity with and I expect that it will prove even more engaging.

I don't read the 'vampire' genre and my only fictional connection with witches up until now have been Terry Pratchett's wonderful works... something tells me, however, that finding these topics in quality fiction will not be easy.

While I'm waiting for my anything else you'd recommend?

Yehudith Arni Vidar wrote: "That's what I did with the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series. Only problem with that is that I haven't begun it yet :D"

you will love it. i did. try not to see the movies before you read it. the books, as always, are much better.

Arni Vidar Bjorgvinsson Well Pat, I'm not much into the Vampire scene either, although I fully intend to try to read Anne Rice's Vampire Lestat series one of these days.

If you, however, like experiencing new authors and literature slightly (or even a lot) outside your 'normal', here are a few that I would recommend:

K.C. May's The Venom of Vipers by K.C. May ($2.99)
C.J. West's The End of Marking Time by C.J. West ($0.99)
Randy Singer's The Justice Game by Randy Singer ($9.39)
Melissa Marr's Graveminder by Melissa Marr ($9.99)
Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (No eBook available)
Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini ($12.99)

All of these surprised me in one way or another (as did A Discovery Of Witches) and were the kindling that fed and re-awoke the previously dormant flame and passion for reading. It's bound to be difficult for me to recommend something for you, though, since I am all about fantasy and you seem to have more of an inclination towards reality :D

Also, since you are obviously a bit of a history buff, I would recommend you read Orson Scott Card's Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card ($7.99) Alvin Maker series (well, at least give the first book a chance) if for nothing else but to see how Card is brilliantly rewriting US settlement history into the world of fiction.

message 33: by Pat (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pat Thank you kindly! I hate this time when you've finished something fabulous and are slogging around for something else of equal or better merit to read.

Actually, I am a fantasy buff....if reading LOTR 17 times for a start is any indication. Loved Ender's Game so the Card book looks good...i.e. safe. But I will certainly give the others a tickle.

Thanks again...

Arni Vidar Bjorgvinsson And yes Yehudith, I specifically made it a point to ignore all the hype around the books. Everybody was extolling the series as just stupidly awesome, and since it's very difficult to live up to such expectations I decided to neither read nor watch them for several years. I dunno why, but I somehow expected them to be much better if I didn't read them during the hurricane of prose and exclamations of greatness.

This is also why I am so happy to have read and loved The Hunger Games before I ever knew anyone was going to make a movie off it, or before hearing people describing the movie as one of the most magnificent movies of all time. :)

Yehudith i also read The Hunger Games before i knew the movie is going to be made. i did not see the movie yet as it is too soon after the book reading. i would recommend you read Cassandra Clare's books. i LOVED them.

Betsy Thanks Arni, your review says it all.

message 37: by Ben (new) - added it

Ben Tyler cool review dude. I'm thinking about reading this after I finish the series I'm reading now.

message 38: by Wren (new) - added it

Wren I'm so glad that other people love this book as much as I do. I kept being called to it but the poor reviews had me putting it off. Finally I was bored with my usual reads and picked it. So so so glad I did!

Arni Vidar Bjorgvinsson Seeing as the book scores 3.98/5, I'd say that the negative reviews are in the minority Renee. :)

Krystal Tarr I lost a little interest in the 2nd book and a little in the 3rd but I liked the series overall. I was reading the reviews just for the heck of it and saw that all the reviews that they showed were negative except for yours! I don't think it can fall under a category like The Twilight series which was extremely popular with teens which is what I think people expect when seeing a book about vampires/witches. like you, I very much enjoyed the book. I was pregnant while reading book 3 so I was able to devour it in a short couple of days since all I did was sleep and read. haha.

Arni Vidar Bjorgvinsson Well assumptions are the mother of all fu....... :) These books are actually labeled YA, so I can kind of understand how people that don't read much could expect them to be similar to Twilight. I think it would benefit greatly from people reading them without expectations and preconceived ideas of what they are about, like when I read it. The book really surprised me, and I think it may have been that much better because of that.
I still haven't had the time to read the other two. I need to have time available to devour these very long books! :)

Martin Nzeki Where are the good books all i see are negative comments

message 45: by Tania (new)

Tania Walker I've read all three of the Discovery of Witches books and thought they were brilliant

Arni Vidar Bjorgvinsson I really need to read the other two books. I was looking forward to it, but haven't really been reading much for the last couple of years.

Sarah Beth Stop whatever you are doing and go get the next two books! Prepare for more sleep deprivation! Deliciously addicting!

Arni Vidar Bjorgvinsson Sarah Beth wrote: "Stop whatever you are doing and go get the next two books! Prepare for more sleep deprivation! Deliciously addicting!"

Hah, I've had a really poor reading year this year. Hopefully it'll pick up again soon enough, so I can get to those two. Problem is that I may have to re-read the first one first :)

I see you only gave the other two 4*, so I assume they aren't as fantastic as the first one?

message 49: by Brenda (new) - added it

Brenda B Yehudith wrote: you will love it. i did. try not to see the movies before you read it. the books, as always, are much better.

Nope I always try to watch the movie first. *because* the books are way better. Otherwise it ruins the movie. Perfect examples: The Green Mile and the Jurassic Park Trilogy (yes I know there are 4 movies, but I'm talking about the movies based on books that I've read...haven't read the last one yet....yes I know it's almost 20 yrs old...)

Same with Twilight. I probably would have NEVER finished the first movie nor followed it if I had read it first. Hardly at all like the book (only snippets of conversation and names are the same I swear!) and I would have been disgusted had I read it first.

Stacey O'Leary i love these books all 3 of them they are my favourite i come back to them once a year an think yeah lets do it again an i end up in the world of diana an Matthew for days in end. i cant wait for the tv series to come out i hope they make it as good as the books x x finger crossed x

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