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Book Review: A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)A Discovery of Witches
by Deborah Harkness
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m very proud of myself for enduring the first 80% of the book. I was finally rewarded with the only worthwhile developments and relevant action in the whole story, but that was only in the last quarter of the novel. It was a tedious haul. The pacing ranges from the slow, descriptive banality of everyday happenings that have nothing to do with the (supposed) plot, to fast-paced scenes that make you back-up a few paragraphs thinking you must have missed something somewhere.

The bulk of the novel reads like Twilight For Adults, which would actually be nice, if that had been clear from the beginning. Instead, we are forced to clod through a barrage of potential plot points and main antagonists before settling on the Twilight rehash. The focus keeps shifting. The Ashmore manuscript is all important at first, and then it’s dropped completely. Then the agonizingly slow-paced Forbidden Romance comes to the fore. This is then replaced with a much larger (and far more interesting) conspiracy theory. Then it’s back to Twilight, shifts again, and finally settles on Twilight for good. Ugh.

I believe that’s the worst part of this reading experience: the Ashmore manuscript is a red herring. It’s not the plot, nor even a major part of the story as a whole. (You aren’t given an explanation as to the trouble with stealing the manuscript until the last quarter of the book, so for most of the story, you’re condemned to wondering what all the fuss is about and why someone doesn’t just go get the damn thing.) After spending so much time on it in the beginning, and wading though all the library scenes and the fuss surrounding its mysterious contents, only to have it dropped as a plot point almost completely and learn nothing more about it: I felt tricked.

If this story had been broken-up into two or three installments, and not presented as though it were to be a single cohesive story, it may have worked better. It’s a choppy, derivative work that tries too hard and waits too long to get to the point. It is worth it in the end, but that’s not enough to make up for its flaws.

Best: the Bishop house is alive.
Worst: the manuscript is a red herring. Don’t fall for it.
WTF: yoga…really?
Worth It: DID I MENTION THE BISHOP HOUSE IS ALIVE?
Honorable Mention: the ghosts, and Sophie.

View all my reviews

Reading Progress

12/01 page 350 60.0%
11/20 page 289 50.0%
11/05 page 250 43.0% It finally got interesting.
10/25 page 200 35.0% So bored with this book. It’s putting me to sleep every night. Started out so well, with the alchemy research, Bodlien library, complicated background of the main character, but now… The author quickly abandoned all the things that were interesting about the setting, plot, and character, for all the things that weren’t. It’s as if this book was edited with the opposite intention of what editing is for. Anti-Edited.
10/25 page 200 35.0%
10/11 page 100 17.0%
I’m a pan(en)theistic Pagan with a quick tongue, black thumb, and no sense of elemental direction. Otherwise, I’m awesome.
Posted By Mnemosyne Mars

I'm a pan(en)theistic Pagan with a quick tongue, black thumb, and no sense of elemental direction. Otherwise, I'm awesome.

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