A Discovery of Witches brings us a world where witches, vampires and daemons live amongst us. Diana is a historian, trying her best to live an ‘ordinary’ life, despite coming from a family of powerful witches. When she unwittingly uses her powers to call up an ancient manuscript, it draws the attention of many other creatures, including Matthew, a powerful vampire.
During the first half of the book, I found myself thinking that this was a ‘grown up Twilight’ – it’s a slow build up of these two characters, and their relationship. As someone who only got through a small section of Twilight before giving up, this did worry me. I found myself rolling my eyes at how wonderful Matthew was, and it seemed obvious that a romance would soon follow.
Despite this, something kept drawing me back to the book, and Matthew started to work his ‘magic’ on even me. The book still felt slow, but I was starting to forgive it, and wondering where it would go.
The second half of the work really picks up, for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the storyline itself picks up and becomes more complex, plus some excellent characters are introduced, including Matthew’s ‘mother’ and his housekeeper, both vampires, as well as Sarah, Diana’s aunt, and a powerful witch. Plus of course, the house which Sarah lives in, which not only has witches, but also a character of itself!
Reviews for this book are mixed, and looking at them, I think the pacing of the early book may be to blame. It’s slow and involved, and heavy on the building romance. The second half, however, is a great improvement, with more action, tension and characters which stay with you after putting the book down.
One thing I did like was the inclusion of history and science, adding some extra layers. There’s an interest in where the various powers etc come from, including studying DNA. This seems to add to the modern feel of the book, and somehow makes it more ‘grounded’.
There is a second book planned, and I will definitely be looking out for it. I’m hoping that the faster pace of the story will continue, and I also believe we’ll see a different side of Matthew.
Published by Headline – h/b Feb 2011 p/b Sept 2011