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A Discovery of Nothing: where’s all the magic?

July 22, 2011 3 comments

Has this ever happened to you, Gentle Reader?  Somebody close to you tells you all about this FANTASTIC book that they’ve read this year and you just HAVE to read it now!  And upon reading it, you are expected to tell them all about how it changed your life too and how you’re going to proselytize this “good book” all over hill and dale.  Well, GR, this has just recently happened to me and the offending turd is none other than Deborah Harkness’s A Discovery of Witches.

Where do I begin?  I’ll tell you where I’m not going to waste any time: the beginning.  Nothing, and I mean nuh-thing, happens in this book of any consequence for the first 300 pages or so.  From the NLS annotation (because Harkness and Amazon’s synopsis are ridiculously long):

After scholar and witch Diana Bishop requests an alchemical manuscript from the depths of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, she finds the magical power within the leather cover disturbing and hastily sends it back. But the book’s reemergence causes a chain reaction through the paranormal community. Descriptions of sex.

Diana Bishop is also descended from witches dating back to the Salem witch trials…because all witches in fiction are descended from Salem, MA.  She is also considered a “reluctant” witch because she refuses to use her powers, which are, of course, super powerful and she has like the most powerful potential witch-powers in the history of the world.  Aaaaaaaaaand, her boyfriend is a vampire.  A broody, tortured, rich, handsome, 1,500 year old vampire.  I’ll get back to Edward Cullen Matthew du Clairmont in a minute.

I left the part about “descriptions of sex” in the NLS annotation because there significantly ARE NOT ANY.  So, no real magic and no real sex.  This book is a 592 page rip off of every magic/vampire/witch/romance/suspense/secret society novel ever written.

The vampire, Matthew Clairmont, is some kind of undead Forest Gump.  He has met and/or worked along side EVERYONE of political, historical, or artistical(?) note of the past thousand years.  Vampire Matthew fought in the crusades, the Revolutionary War, the Napoleonic Wars, and probably even the Korean War (it’s the forgotten one, you know).

And you laughed when I likened Matthew to Edward Cullen, but in the part of the book I’m suffering through right now, it has just been revealed that the witch and the vampire are destined to reproduce.  Re-pro-duce.  I could punch Stephenie Meyer for introducing that little nugget of literary license to the vampire/magic genre.

And I’m not even done reading the thing yet.  I have been suffering through this book for 5 weeks now.  It is 2 weeks overdue.  I owe the Salem Public Library $3.45 to date.  I have to finish this book because I have to go back and tell the recommender something about this lame book.

But wait, there’s more.  There are about 100 pages left in this turd and it’s real obvious that nothing is about to be resolved.  So, we’re looking at a series.  There will be more.  Dear Deborah Harkness: you either write a long-assed book that sucks or you write several medium- to short-assed books that suck collectively.  You DO NOT write a series of books that are all as long as hell.  Thank you, Me.

As usual, check this book out at your public library.  Go today and get on the waiting list because it’s a best seller and you will need to wait for your copy.  How and why?  I don’t know.

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