Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Discovery of Witches, Deborah Harkness

*sigh* Another awesome book. Another awesome book from a story that's not complete. Unlike City of Dark Magic and the Gale Women books, this story isn't even complete! It ends in a cliffhanger!

Admittedly, this books is a love story, but it doesn't feel like a romance. For one, the characters take time to get to know each other. While they may develop feelings quickly, they don't act on them. In fact, at the end they're married, but haven't consummated the marriage yet. Not that romances are all about sex, I just mean this had a different feel than romance novels. The main characters' first date is so adorably awkward!

One of my favorite things about this book are the vampires. Now, I know it wasn't long ago I was reading about Anita Blake and talking vampires, but this is completely different.

A couple weeks ago I saw this picture while browsing facebook:

My thoughts were, "Yeah! Good point! How come vampires don't use their time more wisely!? WTF?!"

Well, this books kinda addresses that. While other vampires are worried about blood and sex, and maybe some world domination, the vampires in this book are scientists.

This world has four species: humans, witches  vampires, and daemons (though I think races are a better title, I'll go with what the books says). Humans engage in willful ignorance about the other three, and the other three try to keep it that way for fear the humans will greet the knowledge with genocide. That doesn't mean the other three get along though; they either keep to themselves, or fight. Maybe not always physically, but they certainly don't get along. Witches tend to think vampires and daemons are basically animals, vicious and stupid respectfully. Vampires think witches are arrogant and daemons are stupid sheep. This book doesn't focus on daemons that much, but it seems they agree with vamps on the witches and maybe think the vamps are blood thirsty (no pun intended), but mostly are just too dreamy for any of it to matter.

There is actually an exchange between Matthew and Diana, the heroes, about the human belief vampires will burst into flame in sunlight. Matthew explains it's how humans process the knowledge of vampires - or deny it. It's a metaphor, human knowledge of vamps being sunlight. So, maybe a good idea to keep hidden from the humans...?

I should quickly explain daemons  though they're not super important in this one. Daemons are...savants. They're incredibly talented and intelligent - usually in the arts, but not exclusively. Mostly, think Van Gogh, or Janis Joplin, or Shakespeare, but there are some that are driven towards things like finance, too. They're brilliant, but tend to devolve into madness and die young. It's also unknown how they appear. They're typically born to humans. No one knows how or why.

Ok, so, now that I've set up this world, let's talk a little about Diana and Matthew. Dianna is the main character. She's a historian focusing on alchemy. She's a witch but she's denied her powers since she was a child - she actually counts how many times a year she "slips" and uses magic. Like using it to fix a washing machine, or get a book off a high shelf.

While working in Oxford, she comes across a manuscript with a spell on it. She wants to avoid magic so much, she sends it back, setting events into motion which bring Matthew into her life. Matthew believes the manuscript tells where the 4 species come from and why they're there, which is his life's work. All his lives really, since he's about 1500 years old.

The manuscript brings everyone out: vampires (Matthew), daemons and witches. Dianna may be a witch, but her people are not there to protect her. Everyone wants her to recall the manuscript, but only Matthew is interested in protecting her. The witches are just as happy to torture her into helping them.

When things boil over in Oxford, Matthew and Dianna run, first to his home in France, then to hers in Connecticut. I think that's part of why it doesn't feel like a typical romance novel. They meet, they date, they start having feelings for each other, they meet each other's families. Though, technically they're married by the time they get Connecticut. I spent most of the book with a smile on my face - the rest was crying, but that's just kinda what I do, don't let it deter you.

What deters the lovers is an agreement between the 3 creature groups never to intermingle. Diana and Matthew are forbidden to be together. In the end, Diana and Matthew, and their group of rebels against this agreement, decide the only way they can fight the group in charge of enforcing it is for Diana to learn to use her magic. But, with magic waning, just like there are fewer vamps and daemons, there's no one who can do this. The decision is made to time travel to a time when witches were more powerful. And off they go to 1590.

AND THAT'S WHERE IT ENDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Damn my mom for getting me books I'd enjoy!! How dare she!?! (Happy Mother's day BTW.) Now I have to wait till the end of May for book 2 and god knows how long for the final book!! How will I manage it?! *tears and gnashing of teeth*

Oh, right, by reading something else. Oooh! Shinny....

A Discovery of Witches, Deborah Harkness

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