Scootsa1000’s #CBR4 Review #31: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

The Cannonball Read has been a great resource for me for books I had never heard of, recommended by other readers whose opinions I’ve come to trust.  I’ve made library lists and Amazon wish lists of these books, and have slowly been making my way through them.  What I never considered doing, and what I’ve found has been A HUGE MISTAKE, was to make a list of books that I SHOULD NEVER READ because these same readers — again, who I’ve come to trust — have written scathing reviews of.

Which brings me to A Discovery of Witches.  This book was Amazon’s $0.99 Kindle deal of the day a few months ago, right before we left on a month’s vacation.  And I had heard of it, and knew it was a huge bestseller, so I downloaded it and started to read it in June.

If only I had read the reviews of my fellow Cannonballers first.  If I had ever seen the usage of the term “Twilight for adults”, I think I probably could have avoided the horrible awfulness that was A Discovery of Witches.

Diana Bishop is a PhD of alchemical science who is working for a year at Oxford.  Oh, and she’s a witch, descended on both sides of her family from witches dating back to before Salem.  One day she accidentally calls up a mysterious manuscript for her research, one that has been missing for hundreds of years, and is coveted by witches, vampires, and demons all over the world.  She crosses paths with a tall, dark, brooding vampire named Matthew, and suddenly they find themselves being chased and hunted by the aforementioned witches, vampires, and demons, all of whom just have to get their hands on that manuscript.

Matthew, of course, is like an older Edward Cullen.  He’s so controlling over Diana, I almost saw it as abusive.  But he’s so handsome, and he has such nice sweaters, that Diana can’t help but fall for him immediately.  A few weeks after meeting, they are “married” (in the eyes of vampires, at least), and fleeing creatures from Europe to upstate New York, trying to get Diana to safety.  Yawn.

Other than the fact that I couldn’t find ONE SINGLE sympathetic character in this book (I think we were supposed to like her aunts, but really, I hated them), what this book needed more than anything was a good editor.  How many times do I need to read about tea, or how vampires love wine, or how Matthew had nice sweaters, or about their yoga workouts?  Seriously, this book could have been cut by at least 200 pages and still have told the necessary story.  As a former editor (never in fiction, but still), this annoyed me to no end.

I despised the Twilight books, and was one of the only anti-Twilight voices when my book club gathered to discuss them.  But this book seemed worse to me, because it was written for adults — clearly pandering to the Twilight Moms among us.  I’ve heard that this is the first book in a trilogy.  I promise I’ll never read the next two books, and will prefer the ending I’ve created in my mind — Diana and Matthew are lost in time forever.  The end.


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