Published by Viking Penguin on February 8, 2011
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Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.
I read A Discovery of Witches because I wanted to watch the TV series but I wanted to read it beforehand. I had heard that the show would be something I’d enjoy but I was a little dubious. Only because I had already picked up the first book and I had struggled to get into it. In fact I put it back down and didn’t really seem drawn to it again until now. I will say that this wasn’t a book that really gripped my attention and it wasn’t an easy read. Whether or not I bother reading the sequel is up for debate.
I think my biggest issue with A Discovery of Witches is actually Diana Bishop. She wasn’t a likeable character and I struggled to connect with her and feel empathy for her struggles. I also thought that as a character she was underdeveloped. There was nothing about her apart from being a witch that made her stand out from the crowd. She also had no personality, nothing that made her interesting, I just wanted her to do something that would make A Discovery of Witches a better read. The highlight of her as a character was her interactions with Matthew.
I also wanted more of a developed magic system. There was a lot that could have been expanded on as a whole in A Discovery of Witches. I wanted a lot more detail and a lot more from the characters, both in interest and action. I thought there was going to be another focus specifically on the history and more of the alchemy but that was sorely lacking as well. Overall I just needed an explanation, something other than the simplistic view on the world. This book had so much potential if only it had been better developed and more effort put into it.
My favourite character was definitely Myriam. She seemed to stand her own within the storyline and wasn’t particularly phased by anything going on around her. It was as though she was a refreshing force within the plot and she didn’t seem to be all that impressed with the crappy love story that was going on. She was the only one who spoke any sense or thought logically. I really enjoyed her point of view and I only wish that she had had a bigger part in the story.
I’m still debating on whether I’m going to continue on with the series. I really struggled to get through A Discovery of Witches and it just wasn’t one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read. I don’t think I want to waste any more time on a book that seems to be predictable and trope-filled. If the story had been better developed I might have thought about it but I’m not sure I want to deal with it all again.
Do you understand the hype of the series? Do you recommend I carry on with the book or does it follow along the same lines? Let me know in the comments!
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