Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Discovery of Witches - Deborah Harkness (Audio)

For quite awhile now, I've felt a little sad and left-out of the club that has read and loved this book.  At first, I convinced myself it wasn't for me.  I told myself that I was SO SICK of vampire novels.  (All the while I was trying to get the book on audio from my library, but the only format was on MP3, which won't work for me.)    So I went back to telling myself I didn't need any more vampires in my life.

But then Heather decided to use some extra Audible credits and download it, even though she'd already read the book, and gave it to me on her iPod.  That is a friend!  She wanted to bestow the joys of this book upon me.  I'm so glad she did.


Synopsis:  Diana Bishop comes from a long and illustrious line of witches, but she has turned her back on her "gifts" because she believes it is to blame for her parents' brutal deaths when she was a child.  Instead, she prefers to languish in the academia of Oxford, teaching and researching and doing smarty things.

Then one day, she unknowingly calls up an ancient bewitched manuscript from the bowels of the Oxford Bodleian Library...one that was thought to be lost forever...and all hell breaks loose.  Witches, vampires, and daemons descend upon her, hoping to get a peek into the document that may have the answers to explain the origins of all other-wordly creatures.

Among those in line for a shot at Diana and said manuscript is geneticist and 1,500 year-old vampire Matthew Clairmont.  Who just happens to be devastatingly handsome, smells like cloves, loves fine wine and participates in regular yoga exercise.  Matthew and Diana forge an unbreakable spiritual and emotional bond, even though relationships across species has always been prohibited.  In their quest to find the answers to their origins, and defend their love against the governing forces of their kind, they find that all that they know and love may be taken away from them, including their lives.

My thoughts:  Ultimately, I DID enjoy this book.  But I struggled with it at first.  It seemed just a little corny and contrived, with talk of Matthew's glowering looks, his explosive temper, his smells and her smells, her irresistibility, and his fierce protectiveness of her.  There isn't much of a warm-up to the love affair either.  It is pretty instant and pretty intense.  What does that remind you of?  I did roll my eyes.

But Matthew is kind of a cool dude, if you can get past his desire to control Diana.  He has been around, and has rubbed elbows with a whole lineup of historical figures (like Darwin or Shakespeare for example), he likes wine, and does Yoga.  You have to give credit to Harkness for her fantasizing the perfect vampire to life within these pages.  And Diana is no pushover.  She is headstrong and gets pissy when Matthew tries to reign her in.  (She DOES seem to sleep a lot, and he likes to watch her sleep, which is annoying.)

I really enjoyed how the author builds this whole world, and a whole history, that has been filled with these creatures.  It is a construction job that is worthy of a trilogy (which this is, by the way).  It is a world that was easy for me to get lost in, me being the student of Anne Rice and her sexy, dangerous vampires that intrigued me for books on end.  

I must admit that even though life-threatening things were always happening to Diana and Matthew, I never really felt much danger.  They seemed to get out of tight scrapes fairly easily, and the right person always showed up at the right time.  More contrivance.

But I will continue with the series.  It ended on a cliffhanger.  It entertained me.  Harkness is a very good storyteller. 

A few words about the audio production:  The narrator for this audio is Jennifer Ikeda (who does come back and narrate the sequel "Shadow of Night").  She narrated Marisa de los Santos' "Love Walked In", which charmed me to no end, and she was equally as pleasant here.  Her accents were smooth and effortless, and made this listening experience very enjoyable.

Listening length:  24 hours and 2 minutes (592 pages)

4 out of 5 stars           

   

16 comments:

bermudaonion said...

My sister read this in print and loved it but told me she didn't like I'd like it. Since she knows my taste fairly well, I think I'll skip it.

Zibilee said...

I am so glad that you listened to it and eventually liked it! I do think that the controlling thing with Matthew was a little annoying, but I loved the bits about the deamons, witches, and vampires. It was a very clever book, I think, and I think you will like the sequel, which I am listening to now. It's a lot of fun, with lots of historical figures thrown in (and lots of surprises).

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I admit I couldn't get past the beginning. Maybe I should try again...

Julie P. said...

I was surprised by how much I ended up liking this book. Wouldn't have thought...

JoAnn said...

I'm so glad you ended up enjoying the book, even though I still can't get too excited about it. 24 hours is SO long...

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

Like you, I've also felt excluded from "the club that loves this book!" :) I do mean to read it, but I get terrified of books that everyone loves since I'm worried I'll be "the only one" who doesn't (sort of like my recent thoughts on the audio for The Gods of Gotham). I want to give this one a little more time and then I'll definitely pick it up!

Jenners said...

I had almost the exact same problems with this book!! The sense of danger was lacking. When she gets into trouble at that castle at one point, it seemed to get resolved with barely a flutter of danger. Still, it wasn't BAD -- she gets points for imagination -- but I didn't fall in love with it either.

Tasha B. said...

Ooooooh, that smell, can't you smell that smell...

If you think Discovery of Witches was like Twilight, just wait till you read Shadow of Night.

Beth F said...

I really liked this book --

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

Read it at the beginning of the year and couldn't finish it. Gave up just before they went to Paris.

I could have handled the endless sessions of vampire yoga and even the descriptions of the hero’s clove smell every other paragraph. What I couldn’t handle was how a confident, smart, resourceful, rational heroine gets transformed into a fragile being in need of protection, just days after meeting The Vampire She Can’t Resist Although She Tries.

Jackie Bailey said...

I started this book, but abandoned it quite quickly. I'm pleased that you enjoyed it in the end, but if I'm going to read a book that long it needs to be amazing

softdrink said...

He also sparkles. I just about quit when I read that word.

Trisha said...

I started this one a while ago, but stopped after about three pages (not exactly a fair shake). I'll have to get into it again someday since so many of you enjoyed it.

Ti said...

Well, I am glad you are not left out anymore! I have made a decision to pass these books by for numerous reasons but if they are even remotely corny, then that seals the deal for me.

Melody said...

I need to get to this book after reading so many reviews on it!

Melissa said...

I missed your review of this one. I read it in print and really enjoyed it. I'm about halfway through the second book right now and it's good too. I just struggle with long books and limited reading time. :)