Finding the Me in Mommy

“A Discovery of Witches” crosses genres, but is it a good thing?

on January 21, 2012

As promised, I’m starting the book review section of this blog.  I read constantly.  I don’t stick to one genre, and I will read the instructions to a toy or the back of a cereal box if I don’t have a book handy.

I just finished A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.  I chose this book solely by the cover (I know, a sin among readers).  We recently took a little mini-vacation and I forgot a book.  That’s a really bad thing, because I’m a bit of an insomniac and without something to read, I will toss and turn, waking up my husband and my kids in the confined space of a hotel room.  So we stopped at Target and while my husband impatiently tapped his foot, I grabbed a book that looked okay.  I started it during our trip, but it was sloooooooooow going.  When we came back home, I went back to the book I had been reading before we left, a Kathy Reichs novel that guaranteed me some suspense.

I finished Cross Bones (Reichs at her finest, by the way), and restarted A Discovery of Witches.  It took about fifty pages, but eventually I felt invested enough in the story to want to keep going.

This isn’t the typical witches, vampires and daemons book.  In fact, there were several points in the novel where I forgot completely that there was a supernatural theme at all.  The author becomes very caught up in history, both where it relates to the characters individually and where it relates to the history of the supernatural creatures in general.  Let me just say, I love history.  For me, the best and most interesting parts of the book were when the author got lost in the historical aspects.  If you’re not a history buff, I have a feeling those passages will be excruciatingly dull and wordy for you.

I like some supernatural themed novels.  I love Harry Potter, I’m a fan of Kelley Armstrong, and Shanna Swendson’s Katie Chandler books are fantastic light reads.  I sometimes read long, descriptive historical novels and get so caught up in them that I’m sad when I hit the last page, like I did when I read The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson.  And occasionally I read lighter, full-of-humor romance novels, like anything written by Jennifer Crusie.

The biggest problem with A Discovery of Witches is that it tries, in one really long novel, to satisfy and intrigue the fans of any of the above genres.  For me, it pretty much fails in all categories.  It’s too long and in-depth to be a romance novel, it’s too fluffy to truly appeal to the reader of more serious books, and the supernatural aspect feels like a throw-away to fit in with the current “in” topic.

And the biggest irritation of all, for me, is how it leaves you hanging at the end.  It’s like the author is taunting you with the knowledge that you have to buy the second, and third, and thousandth installments in this series to know what happens to the protagonist.  I, personally, didn’t care enough about the protagonist to feel inclined to purchase the next one.

I’d rather buy another Kathy Reichs.

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