A Discovery of Witches (Deborah Harkness) – DNF

A Discovery of Witches is the first novel of the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness.
Quit on: 12.7.2018

Diana Bishop has spent her entire life with science. History of science to be exact. Anything to escape her own heritage: because Diana is a witch. That she really doesn’t want to be one, becomes irrelevant though when she stumbles upon an old manuscript that was thought to be lost. Her discovery leads her to Matthew Clairmont, a vampire who has spent his not inconsiderable lifespan looking for that manuscript. As Diana has to come to terms with her own magical powers, she also has to come to terms with her attraction to Matthew – a connection that is not allowed in the magical world.

I quit reading A Discovery of Witches after around 300 pages or so. I just couldn’t take it anymore. It’s not that it was unreadable – in fact, it was pretty well written – but it was basically an endless succession of exhausting, hateful tropes.

Book cover showing a historical building in black and white and red smoke or maybe silk bands in the sky above it.

Here are the things I hated most about the book:

  • Matthew is the worst kind of alpha male: the kind who is actually just this side of being abusive in how controlling he is about Diana and her life.
  • The text constantly insists that Diana is stubborn and willful and always does things exactly how she wants to do them, but actually she doesn’t make a single decision on her own. Instead she gives in and is led by other people all the time.
  • For whatever reason, vampiric social structure is argued with wolf packs – probably because Matthew is such an alpha *cough cough* – but it’s not even an accurate representation of wolf packs, instead it is this fictional version that completely ignores how wolves actually live together. And if you’re going to misrepresent wolves and make your own thing anyway, why slander them?
  • Matthew and Diana had known each other for three weeks at the point I quit and they already swore eternal love to each other and upended everything. It’s probably supposed to be romantic, but for me it was just irresponsible and incomprehensible.

I really couldn’t bear to finish it, it made me want to scream so much. That’s pretty much all I can say.

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