A Discovery of Witches  - Deborah Harkness

LIKED:

  • The historical elements woven into the story were very interesting to me. Then again, I was a history major in college so your mileage may certainly vary. I also enjoyed the bits of scattered information about alchemy. 
  • The sense of place is very vivid. The author describes libraries and crumbling castles so that you can imagine them very clearly. I want to visit Oxford so badly after reading this book!

 

LIKED LESS:

  • The characters were very one-dimensional, even the main ones. I don't feel like I really knew any of them. 
  • This book was way longer than it needed to be. The momentum got bogged down many times by unnecessary scenes.
  • The romance was completely unconvincing. Diana goes from being fairly indifferent to Matthew to being madly in love with him in a snap. Then they become mated for life after only knowing one another for a few weeks. I have read plenty of romance novels where the couple's relationship moves very quickly but those were believable. In this case, I don't think the author adequately lays the groundwork for such a fast-paced romance.
  • The vampires have a wolf-pack-like hierarchy where everyone defers to the oldest male. Pack hierarchy is more convincing when applied to werewolves (even though science has since disproven the whole pack hierarchy business among wild wolves) but there's no reason to apply it to vampires except it being a patriarchal remnant of the cultures they grew up in. The only thing such a hierarchy accomplishes in this book is to make Matthew disagreeably bossy and controlling and to rob the female characters (especially Diana) of their agency. 

 

Audiobook Notes: The narration was excellent. The narrator clearly delineated between characters and told the story in an engaging way. I think I might have given up on this book if it hadn't been for the high quality of the audiobook production.