A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)
One star for the story and ½ star for reminding me how much I miss my alma mater, though it was no Oxford.
A good friend suggested this book. She and I have overlapping tastes in urban fantasy, and since she enjoyed this book, I thought I would too. The premise sounded interesting, what with elemental magic, a long lineage of witchcraft, historical tie-ins, a love of old books, and—of course—vampires. What’s not to like, right?
What I was expecting:
Something along the line of Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic but with more otherworldly creatures.
What I got:
Twilight, but written for people who think they’re too good for actualTwilight.
Twilight, but written for people who want a grown-up version of Twilight.
Well, that’s not fair. It’s better than Twilight, though only in the grammatical sense. Sentences are fully formed and rarely interrupted by inconsequential thoughts, but that’s not to say the writing doesn’t suffer from quirks of its own. The word “scholar” is thrown around a lot to remind readers that the main character, Diana, is in fact a scholar—at Oxford! no less, which is a big deal! Otherwise you’d never guess she’s an academic; no way to tell based on how little she knows of actual research. These little reminders only highlight how juvenile and shallow the writing is.
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The first ten chapters were pure trivial YA flounce. After reading Carol’s review, I had every intention of following her suggestion and abandoning it, but I held out a little longer to find out the vampire’s real age. Then things got somewhat interesting when the Origin of Species and DNA identification subplot was introduced. I don’t mind info-dumps if they’re interesting and relevant, and these piqued my interest. I was convinced it was the book’s one redeeming factor, and so I followed it all the way down a long winding path that made little sense. And it was a waste of time. Moral of the story: always listen to Carol.