Katherine Coble's Reviews > A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
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Oct 03, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: library-checkout, recommended-by-a-friend
Read from October 03, 2012 to August 07, 2017 , read count: 1

This is yet another book that drives home for me the idea that novels need a 10-pt rating scale. It was, for me, a solid 3.5 stars--7/10. But I'm rounding up to 4 instead of rounding down. That in itself is praise for the strong last third of the tale.

This is really a story with three very distinctive parts. The middle part is the problem. The story gets lost under a morass of wine chatter and dullness. The rest of the book is smart, interesting and well-done.

I'm frustrated by the comparisons--both positive and negative--to _Twilight_. This is no more like Twilight than it is like _The Codex_ or any of the other Rare Tome thrillers that were so in vogue 10 years ago. So many of the less-than-positive reviews seem to be coming from the perspectives of Twilight fans who were disappointed in a vampire/warm blood romance that failed to honour the beats and tropes from Meyer's work.

I'm a vampire purist from the Stoker days; I like my bloodsuckers menacingly sociopathic, so it takes a lot for me to warm to the concept of Vampire-as-lover. I was never quite able to read this with the same mindset as I've read other romantic novels, because it's hard for me to cheer for such a menacing male lead. But Harkness did a masterful job of bringing Matthew into fullness as a character over the course of the story. I had problems with his stalker/controlling behaviour, and almost abandoned the book. These behaviours ARE addressed and gender parity comes into play as much as it can, given the characters' sociology.

I would advise anyone who reads this to just make their peace with pages 200-350(approx.) being dull and seeming aimless. The book does rally and they eventually do stop talking about every glass of wine they drink.
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Reading Progress

10/03 page 1
0.0% "Several people recommended I read the sequel because it deals with John Dee, who is someone I am very curious about. I was unwilling to read that book without reading this preceding volume, and here at last it is."
10/03 page 10
1.0% "I'm enjoying the quality of the writing. Seems like Harkness is going to do a bit of living vicariously through her protagonist. That could either make for a satisfying escapist fantasy or a trite Mary Sue-athon. So far the writing bodes well for the former."
10/07 page 48
8.0% "So far it's pretty interesting; although I will never get used to authors describing clothing in great detail while failing to describe faces."
10/09 page 131
22.0% "So far I think that the descriptions I read of this book heretofore just were not...right...somehow. It's a much more cerebral read than I have been led to believe by those who describe it as "Twilight for grown ups." I don't mean to say that it's Eco or Piercy or that kind of inscrutable literary fiction. It's just a well-done story. My love of all things British probably contributes to my enjoyment."
10/10 page 172
29.0% "Holy cats! They drink a lot of wine in this book."
10/10 page 229
39.0% "I really wish we could have some romance where the lovers were equal. This business of him taking care of her by drugging her surreptitiously (for her own good!) is less "loving" and more "second degree felony"."
10/10 page 241
41.0% "I am making little headway. There are vast chunks of this book that read like someone's fantasy. The author loves wine so the characters spend page after page drinking the best wine ever. The author loves horses so we get page after page of horse talk, including long descriptions of her riding clothes. I feel like I'm going to Harkness' "special place"."
09/30 marked as: read
02/06 marked as: currently-reading
02/23 marked as: read
08/04 marked as: currently-reading
08/07 marked as: read
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