13 member(s) found this review helpful.
Well, I guess I'll end up being a nay-sayer here. I was both impressed and disappointed by A Discovery of Witches. The first 20 pages were great - brilliant - and introduced a genuinely novel hook, not just an enchanted 'lost' book, but a palimpsest. I was delighted. The book was returned to the Bodleian stacks of rare books and the promise of a great book was lost. What could have been an original became a Romeo and Juliet 'forbidden romance' story that plodded for nearly half of its almost 600 pages. Then in the last 150 pages the whole thing shifts gears and becomes something else entirely - and ends just as it was getting interesting again.
The single best word for this book was FRUSTRATING. The writing was excellent, the pacing glacial then hectic. Prof Harkness has a real gift for lush prose and descriptive settings, but it doesn't carry through to her characters. Certainly, her love of wine, and of Oxford, and the famous Bodleian comes through. But the real measure of a great book for me this - can I see where this is going, and is that route interesting? By page 100, it was obvious where the next 500 pages would go, and lush prose aside, the forbidden romance thing was just not enough to hold me. But time travel - REALLY? GAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! Did she miss a cliche?
Any way, this odd mix of really good and really ordinary got a C+ from me. And someone get her a ruthless editor. The book needs to be trimmed by 150-200 pages to improve pacing and give the last 150 pages more space for development.
8 member(s) found this review helpful.
I placed the book on reserve at the library after reading about it in my Costco magazine, in Entertainment Weekly, and on various e-mails from online book vendors. It's a good book, a quick read, but I was ultimately disappointed because it wasn't a great read. I think my expectations were too high because of all the hype. And I was disappointed that some things were never resolved in the 579 pages, that in another year or so there will clearly be another volume.
Part of my frustration lies with the trend of cliffhangers among science fiction and fantasy writers. I like series and evolving storylines, but I also like books to be able to stand alone.
6 member(s) found this review helpful.
Too much superfluous information and scenes -- the book could have been written in half the pages. I got tired of it before I got half way through and quit reading. I couldn't get into the characters or the story.