Hello my literary comrades! I hope everything is going well. School, work, and such :). Anyway, I'm itching to start so lets go!
A Discovery of Witches is by Deborah Harkness. It mostly follows Diana Bishop, a young scientific historian who starts out doing research at Oxford's Bodelian Library for an upcoming presentation. She is also the last in a long line of distinguished witches, and happens to shun magic from her life. She accidentally calls up a thought to be lost and extremely sought after alchemical manuscript that all of the supernatural creatures are looking to find. From there, the book goes into hyperspeed, and the story truly begins.
O.O O.O O.O O.O I just finished this book only 20 minutes ago, and I am still reeling from it. I absolutely LOVED this book. It's officially made it's way up to the #2 spot on my list of 2011 favorites. I can't believe how good it was. I heard mixed reviews from my friends leaning towards positive. Now I know why.
This story is OVER EXTREMELY good. Plus it's a nice spin on witches/vampires/daemons. This book hits you in the gut so many times it makes your head spin (yay for body part references! xD). This book is so original and fresh (I know I've used that word in my last few reviews but it's the truth and I'll be damned if I'm wrong) that it could be in the produce isle in your local supermarket. I loved every minute while reading. It starts off slow, with a barrage of information (although you're given an EXTREMELY large amount of info throughout the whole book.). But it's all integral to the later parts of the book. I feel like it could have been in multiple acts, because of all the settings and separate yet connected events. Basically this book rules. I loved the love story (not a spoiler so don't get your tomatoes out just yet). It was a bit reminiscent of Twilight in how quick they fell in love, but still good.
Now onto characters. I really really really liked Diana. She is a strong character that you fall in with immediately. You can connect to her wanting to push out what she thought was something that was toxic and trying to be something you're not. That's a universal idea and so relatable. She was also likable in general. Quick and bright and funny and witty, with a healthy dose of intelligence (she couldn't be a doctor historian of science if she wasn't smart, DUH). I loved following her journey to rediscovering her powers and finding out the shocking twists through her eyes. She didn't back down when she was going for what she wanted or fighting for her right to do whatever or who she loved. Matthew. Oh Matthew. He's a bit Edward Cullen-esque (think "I have to protect you all the time, I can't live without you, watching you sleep (although that wasn't stalkerish since he didn't follow her to her house to do it) and such). But there are good reasons for parts of the Twilightish parts which is nice. But I digress. Matthew is a good strong and solid character. He is a doctor of many things such as philosophy, genetics, etc. He has lived a very long time and because of that, has seen much in his lifetime. He is hard to get to know at first, but the chapters in his POV help you out, plus they are just good chapters (hint back to when I said the book was mostly in Diana's POV.) The are also an array of side characters, all of which are well developed. There are at least two main villains, Peter Knox being one of them. Frankly, he is scary, and I mean SCARY. When he was in a scene, he chilled my bones and made goosebumps on my skin. But that's good he made such a strong impression. Not all characters have to be good to stay with you, they can be bad as well. I also loved Diana's aunts, and Matthew's friend Hamish, son Marcus, mother Ysabeau and assistant Miriam. That's another good thing, you know the books is good when the side characters are well developed and fleshed out.
I LOVE Ms. Harkness' writing style. Her prose is fresh and fun and to the point. In essence, she is talented as hell. I also loved the well thought out and finely detailed mythology she created for this book. She packs all of the information in, but that is good because when you read one of the book's many twists, you can go back and realize the path to it was there all along. That's another thing, this book has a lot of twists, which you can tell Ms. Harkness can clearly craft. They punched you in the face so fast your head spins around like an owl's. Basically, her prose and writing rocks my socks.
I suggest you pick up this book wherever/however you can. Anyone can like it. Yes it is a big book for most and it starts out slow, but once you stick with it it gets good.
My next review will be on Torn by Amanda Hocking.
Until next time comrades.
Viva la literature!