A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Witches, vampires, daemons . . . oh my! An athletic, somewhat obtuse, but yet brilliant protagonist buries and denies her own ancient powers; she's someone with whom any woman can identify. It's a romantic adventure thick with historical references and sketchy sexual innuendo. Secrets abound. Powerful forces are at work here and not just between the two lovers: one (the macho vamp) intent on rescuing the damsel in distress and the other (the witch) unwilling to submit. Repeatedly, she is advised to do so from evil, power hungry daemons, witches and her mother-in-law. The other threat is from a council of creatures intent on regulating relations between creatures, mainly of the copulatory kind, sort of like anti-miscegenation laws in the U.S. The writing is good, but not lyrical, and the repetition of gestures grew tiresome. I keep thinking of Ann Rice's Interview With the Vampire, which also captivated me during the holiday season many years ago. Her story was much darker, but it was also laden with unbidden desire and even love. The adventure in A Discovery of Witches is paramount; the romance between the main characters doesn't seem real, nor does their fear. That said, the rich historical, literary and alchemical references added a great deal of intellectual interest for me: I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.
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