Publishing Info: February 8, 2011 by Penguin
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Vampires
Date Completed: September 21, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.
A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES was not what I thought it would be. Diana, the main character, is a witch but she’s a badass historian and is determined to earn her achievements in life her own way and not just by using magic for everything. For that reason (and of course, other reasons that we learn later), she avoids using any magic whenever possible. Things get complicated (naturally) in part because the urban fantasy world of A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES also includes vampires and demons and the three different supernatural species don’t really play nicely together. Diana meets vampire Matthew Clairmont on the day that all hell starts breaking loose (of course, the two are connected in many ways) and there we have our love interest as well.
So why didn’t A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES work for me? I basically felt like I was reading the entire Twilight Saga wrapped up in one book and made for adults. Granted, I haven’t read a lot of vampire books so any parallel reminds me of Twilight but there was sooooo much stuff and constant reminders that I just couldn’t shake it. I don’t know if this is one of those things where I don’t read a lot of vampire books and this is just common vampire lore but I first read about these plot lines in Twilight or what, but either way, I just felt like they really mirrored each other in a lot of ways. Just the fact that there was such a prominent vampire story line at all really bothered me. I was hoping this would be a lot witchier in terms of magic and plot, but bother were more focused on the vampire/non-vampire interactions and we spend way more time learning about vampire history and behavior than we do about the witch culture and coven history.
I also just felt like this book should have been WAY shorter. There were several long passages about things that could have been included in some world-building moments (like a scene about vampires going hunting where Diana is watching and Matthew isn’t even there) and many conclusions could have been brought about sooner. There were also a lot of secrets in this book (fair) but so many were brought up in a way where it was presented to Diana and people just flat out refused to tell her anything for no good reason. Matthew was way too overprotective for my tastes and it started to bother me. Diana was such a strong personality before she met Matthew, determined to earn everything herself and not skate by on magic, and then once Matthew is in the picture, there are a lot of inconsistencies where she wants him to do all the protecting for her and won’t try to start using her magic while still maintaining that she’s a strong personality who won’t take no for an answer. I had a hard time with the ways she fell apart and the instalove (and INSTA MARRIAGE ew) that just didn’t feel natural in this book. Things just really didn’t feel like they unfolded naturally and I was missing those good world-building chunks to explore this world and felt like there was far too much romance too quickly when we’ve two more books ahead of us.
I just really didn’t like the pacing at all and that beautiful mystery and tension from the first few chapters quickly dissipated, leaving a romance that I just wasn’t feeling in its intended intensity. I’m not sure if I’ll continue the series because of how it ended, adding in yet another supernatural concept when it could have been so beautifully focused on the witchcraft side of things. Pushing that to the side made it feel like it should have been Matthew’s story instead of Diana’s, and I get why it is Diana’s but I wanted to see much more of HER history start to unfold. It was there but there was just far too much vampire in this novel for me.
Kept Me Hooked On: Witchy books. I love witchy novels and it was fun to see another witchy concept.
Left Me Wanting More: Consistency. I just hated how Diana didn’t feel like the same character that she was in the beginning. I hated that she became weak and needed saving once a man came into the picture.
Get a second opinion
This one didn’t really work for me, but SO many people do love it. I would say maybe check with some other trusted reviewers, or just take the plunge and give it a try! I thought for sure this would be a hit and things just felt apart.