A Discovery of Witches (All Souls, #1) A Discovery of Witches discussion


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I just didn't like this book.

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Jacob This book started off so promising, but it just fell apart so quickly. The protagonist had no personality, and the story had no structure or flow. The author is obviously a very intelligent and well-educated woman, but throughout reading A Discovery of Witches, it became increasingly obvious to me that Deborah Harkness knew more about science and history than literature - something which was confirmed by visiting her author's page on goodreads. Her characters were completely flat, and she let premise take precedent over story, which I feel is one of the worst mistakes an author can make.

Anyone else agree with me?


Jennifer Jacob wrote: "This book started off so promising, but it just fell apart so quickly. The protagonist had no personality, and the story had no structure or flow. The author is obviously a very intelligent and wel..."
I wanted to get it, all my friends LOVE this book, I just couldn't make myself like any of the characters. Then they all started doing yoga together...really, and suddenly Matthew became the Christian Grey of the vampire world...


Dawn Kunda I did love this book as I can easily be entertained by books placed in the UK. I didn't care for the second of the series-could not get into it.


Soulfire Jacob, I completely agree. When I checked this out from the library, the librarian told me I was in for a treat and that it was a great book. After all the other positive reviews I'd read I couldn't wait. The beginning was fine, the premise was fine, but the characters were so boring and I hated what the female lead became. She was supposed to be so smart and independent and she became this woman dependent on her vampire. It was like reading Twilight for people obsessed with tea and old books.


message 5: by C.E. (last edited May 16, 2016 02:54PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

C.E. Yes, disappointed too. The abusive behaviour under the guise of 'vamp' love -- it was claustrophobic! The most surprising thing I found about this book was that is wasn't self-published. There's no structural editing whatsoever- it's like the author's first draft was given the go-ahead because they saw another Twilight. POV hops, needless block background of secondary characters -- background that served no purpose to the plot. It felt like one big set up for the consecutive volumes.

And this need to show us every angle of every side of the coin, almost, totally denied the story of any narrative tension. And the climax? Can anyone tell me what that was exactly, pls? It had NO buildup. No focus. Definitely lacked focus throughout. Shame, cause with a good editor this had enough strong ideas to make it a really great read. Let's not even get onto the characterisation, or I will begin to rant (not good).


C.E. Christine wrote: "C E wrote: There's no structural editing whatsoever- it's like the author's first draft was given the go-ahead because they saw another Twilight."..."

I think a good edit could have done wonders f..."


Exactly. The beginning quarter was her going in and out the library incessantly!

I think the major mistake of this book was the focus on the 'romance' (though how being practically carried around on a vampire's back from scene to scene equates to romantic, I do not know) instead of focusing on the mystery surrounding the manuscript, which was the initial hook. The author set it up and then pretty much abandoned it until near the end, using it as a veil while she indulged in -- or should I say 'forced' -- a sexual chemistry that just didn't exist.

If you read Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bones, even though I found it another overbearing 'romance' (though not in the same league as Discovery), THAT is how to run a hook through a book. She knows how to tell a story, and even though the romance was a little too much for me at times, at least there was some genuine chemistry. Discovery is a copy of Taylor's book, but not nearly as good. Plus, Taylor's vocabulary is much more colourful, and unusual in places, but not so much it disrupted the reading experience. Harkness' was just dry, without personality. The whole voice sounded academic, which I didn't think made a good mix when you look at the actual *content* of the book -- dry 'adult' voice; teenage romance. Seriously?? 38 yr old woman acts like 17 yr old plonker. Oh, and a 38 year old who's never had ONE serious relationship? Practically a virgin, in fact. Which makes it actually YA, so marketed to the wrong audience. And all I ever hear is 'know your genre so an agent/publisher knows who the audience is'. Obviously not in this case. (Oh dear, beginning to rant... you have been warned...)

It also disguised itself at the beginning as a 'grown up' vampire story with romatic *undertones*, going to great lengths to avoid the ole 'instalove' trope, and then ended up doing just that anyway (because three weeks to fall in 'love' isn't really that long, let's face it). Doesn't help that it's been marketed as every genre possible yet in truth is a vampire 'romance' and nothing else. Even the title does not suggest vampires. If I were the author I'd be pissed off with the publishing house - no editing (or poorly so) and badly marketed. If they marketed it as vampire romance I'm sure it would get more positive reviews by that fan base, instead of disappointed readers who didn't buy it for that. Still, by duping the audiences they managed to get it on the best seller's list, which was probably the goal anyway.

I really wanted to like this book as well, so I gave it more of a chance than I might have done with another book and so persevered.


message 7: by C.E. (last edited May 18, 2016 12:36AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

C.E. No, me neither. I've noticed this trend too, and it's worrying that women authors think it's okay -- ideal, even! -- for men to display abusive behaviour in order to seem like men, when being a real man is not like that at all. Makes me wonder what kinds of relationships these people have had in their lives that they don't even recognise it. And it reminds me of this article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life...

As for the 38yr old protag -- I think that this book was originally aimed at (by the author) all those adults who like reading YA. I reckon Harkness thought they needed someone more their own age/position in life to identify with. Unfortunately, the characterisation didn't fit the set up -- a younger protag might have been more effective.


message 8: by Sue (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sue That's probably because it was largely derivative and overall pretty mediocre.


Kate So I made myself read all three books in this series, mostly because I will consume anything that has to do with London and especially historical London, and the author is a historian so that made those aspects interesting enough to keep me going. But, I'm interested at having found this thread because I just couldn't really sink into this one the way all the hype suggested I should have. Some books/authors can pull off the whole epic-length, seems-to-ramble book that actually all ties together in the end, but this felt more rambling than purposeful misdirection or anything like that. The mystery of the book that started everything out was just sort of abandoned, and it definitely takes a back seat throughout the series for like, a dozen other plotlines. And as the mystery starts to unravel I always felt super confused and unclear on what it was they were discovering, how they were piecing stuff together. The characters would make some big discovery and yet it seemed like they stopped short of actually explaining what that discovery was. I mean, I hate over-explanation of something obvious to the reader, but there was so much technical and historical jargon and names and dates and places that a teensy bit more explanation would have been nice.

In the end, I really like some of the characters and several of the smaller plots, but the series overall just isn't my favorite, much as I had wanted it to be. As some others have said, I think a good editor would have made a difference because the writing itself is pretty good, but the way it was structured and how things hung together just didn't work for me.


message 10: by Kate (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kate Christine wrote: "Katie wrote: "So I made myself read all three books in this series, mostly because I will consume anything that has to do with London and especially historical London, and the author is a historian..."

I think it had a lot of potential, a lot of really strong elements that just weren't given the proper treatment. It was all that potential that kept me engaged enough to finish but that, sadly, left me feeling unfulfilled in the end.


Gillian Black so glad it is not jut me! Had read rave reviews about this but found it boring and a chore to get through. didn't like either main character.
won't be reading any more of the series. Had high expectations as I enjoy vampire novels.


Jaimie I'm so glad I'm not the only one! I had such high hopes for this book when I read the synopsis. It seemed like it would have all the elements that would make a great book to me. But then, like someone mentioned above, it got to the point where they were doing yoga and it just seemed to lose worth from there. I had such a hard time finishing, it was like dragging my feet through the mud. It seemed that every time it started to try to get a little better, it would just get dull again with the characters changing locations repeatedly. Just too much of the book was filler without anything to make you want to read it. High hopes, but all disappointment.


Miles Atkinson J wrote: "This book started off so promising, but it just fell apart so quickly. The protagonist had no personality, and the story had no structure or flow. The author is obviously a very intelligent and wel..."

J wrote: "This book started off so promising, but it just fell apart so quickly. The protagonist had no personality, and the story had no structure or flow. The author is obviously a very intelligent and wel..."

I don't I'm afraid. I'm two-thirds of the way through this book and thoroughly enjoying it. It makes a refreshing change to read an urban-fantasy novel where the protagonist is an intelligent woman, rather than the usual 'kick-ass' dysfunctional. It's also saddening (but not surprising) to see that many of the negative reviews either misrepresent or completely ignore large sections of the story. In some cases, the end result is nothing more than a poorly-written feminist rant.


message 14: by Brea (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brea Berry J wrote: "This book started off so promising, but it just fell apart so quickly. The protagonist had no personality, and the story had no structure or flow. The author is obviously a very intelligent and wel..."

I felt the same way. I didn't make it through the entire book. The first part was fantastic though.


booksbyaliven Oh dear God. When I bought this book everyone on Instagram told me how fantastic it is. Oh dear God. It was horrible. So happy to read that other people disliked it as well. I thought that it was something wrong with me.
All that nonsense about the food the wine the TEA. How about those Yoga classes? Oh, my God.
I was so sure that I won't find a book to dislike more than Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey, but no there are more out there.
I finished it just because I cannot DNF a book. Thank God, i didn't order all the series.


Candace OMG this book was like watching paint dry! Read this a few years ago and this is my resounding memory of it.


Morgana The books were boring, the story endless with pointless details. I forced myself to finish all 3 books. I think the plot is mediocre but it could have been good.


Chelsea Denard Miles wrote: "It makes a refreshing change to read an urban-fantasy novel where the protagonist is an intelligent woman, rather than the usual 'kick-ass' dysfunctional. It's also saddening (but not surprising) to see that many of the negative reviews either misrepresent or completely ignore large sections of the story. In some cases, the end result is nothing more than a poorly-written feminist rant."

She's really not intelligent at all, if you read closely enough. She's an absolute moron with no common sense and all the "book-smarts" in the world. Sure, she can memorize poetry after one read and recites Elizabethan history like she's reading it off a cereal box. But she also claims to know complex chemistry, and then doesn't understand basic biology. She leaves her job to trail an emotionally abusive vampire so she can play house in France. Perhaps the "feminist rants" you're reading are just honest opinions from women who are fed up with mediocre female protagonists.


Zsófi Teleki SO, I am a late, new arrival. I guess you all did not like this book. I did. The time travel particularly, I am not terribly into vampires, but the thought of someone living through all that is fascinating. Literature is full of heroes who appear to be dangerous, even cruel and turn out to be good after all. Look at Heathcliff, Rochester, even Mr Darcy, and many others. Women are attracted to the bad boy, even if we do not want to keep them. Were the two super nice guys in Twilight better? If it had not been so funny it would have been sad.
Yes parts are extreme but then so is the whole plot. We seem to be obsessed with the paranormal and supper powers, this is just more of that only couched in more academic terms. There are moments of humor, on the dry side, yes but humor, especially in the first. We have plenty of examples of extreme, even unreasonable, devotion, in literature, why is this one not believable?
I enjoyed it.


Georgina I really hated this book.

I don't care about an MC's exercise regimen and what they eat at every meal every day. Apparently Deborah Harkness finds this information compelling....good for her, she'll never run out of fascinating reading material.

Her handling of vampires, demons, and witches was just an inspiration for eye rolling. And the inter-species yoga session was just SO STUPID!!!!!! The dumbest thing I have ever encountered in literature.

The relationship between the MC and her steaming hunk of vampire was also unbelievable. I think the romance may have been mistakenly written for fourteen year old girls because as a mature woman I just don't buy it. The romance was repulsive......completely unrealistic......celibacy inducing.

If life is good I will never be tricked again by a great title and a great cover art that are completely unsupported by the poor quality on the pages in between.

Look, if this book wasn't so bad, I wouldn't still be mad at it two or three years later.

If you liked this book, fine, good for you.......but don't try to convince me it was good......because I will hate this book for the rest of my life and never a positive word about it. The end.


Zsófi Teleki OK by me, to each his own. I was not trying to change an opinion, just express one.


Samira I feel like this book would have been great if it didn't go off in to so many plots. I think they should have left out time travel aspect completely and stuck to the relationships in the present.


Morgan Samira wrote: "I feel like this book would have been great if it didn't go off in to so many plots. I think they should have left out time travel aspect completely and stuck to the relationships in the present."

I made it past the insanely stupid yoga session and I ended up jumping ship at the random horse ride in France. So. Did I just not read enough......or did I completely repress TIME TRAVEL! That's insane. What....WHAT! Why? Why....on earth?


Zsófi Teleki To each his own, I thought the yoga was funny, but then I read a comment by the author about her thoughts on people with "powers"
I loved the time travel part, but then I would if I could, or would have when I was young. Trips to the past fascinate me, both in time travel and just reading about it. Sometimes we must suspend knowledge and go with the fantasy. If we do not like the fantasy, do not go there. I do not read horror or techno, sci fi or space or concentration camps or torture, not my thing.


Jaimie I guess what I don’t understand is why someone would come into a thread called “I just didn’t like this book” to talk about how they liked the book? And then respond to each comment like they’re replying to you?
There’s a rather large sample of people who love this book and make it their #1 recommend it. In fact, this and sjmaas garbage are regularly recommended to me from book websites as “great” paranormal romance. So I guess I just don’t understand when there is such a large sample that loves this book why a person would come to the tiny group that doesn’t like it to talk about why they like it? It just doesn’t make sense to me and I would like to understand why this seemed like an appropriate niche for that?


Zsófi Teleki OK I am new to this sight and I found this page randomly. I did not realize it was incorrect to differ. I will take my unwelcome opinions elsewhere. After all today we only speak to people who agree with us. My mistake.


Jaimie Yeah ok. That is clearly what I was saying. Thank you for making me understand what I was asking. I’ll go ahead and make it clear that I’m being sarcastic in this post.


Samira Morgan wrote: "Samira wrote: "I feel like this book would have been great if it didn't go off in to so many plots. I think they should have left out time travel aspect completely and stuck to the relationships in..."

HAHAHA yeah it was brought up near the end of the first book. Did you read the rest of the series. I did. It did not get better from there.


Samira Zsófi wrote: "To each his own, I thought the yoga was funny, but then I read a comment by the author about her thoughts on people with "powers"
I loved the time travel part, but then I would if I could, or woul..."


I totally agree, the time travel aspect was interesting, in and of itself. But in conjunction with everything else going on, it felt like too much for me.


Nihita I didn't care for it either. I had such high hopes.


Zsófi Teleki and the beat goes on!
Do I have this t look forward to?


Yvette I didn't really like it either.
The book has great promise or at least the premise of the books does.
However, most of the characters are flat, the writing is slooooow, the romance is pathetic, the whole tone is juvenile. And let's not forget the strange and stilted conversations.
For a supposedly intelligent woman DB does a lot of silly things and is really pathetic when around 'her' vampire.
What's with the perpetual tea by the way (and I'm not talking about her special brew)? And with the witch-demon-vampire yoga?
After all the rave reviews and the 4star average, I was really disapointed.


message 33: by Freya (last edited Sep 09, 2019 06:04AM) (new)

Freya I got so bored that I stopped reading before I even got a quarter way through. The thing is A Discovery of Witches almost made me never pick up a fantasy again.


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