Thursday, November 3, 2011
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
I'm a big fan of strong female characters, both in books and on TV. Think Buffy, Veronica Mars, Frankie Landau-Banks, Rory Gilmore, Anne Shirley. Women who know what they want and who will go after it no matter what. I am not a fan of Bella-like characters who lose all sense of self because of a gorgeous guy. Unfortunately, it turned out that Diana Bishop, the main character in A Discovery of Witches, is a Bella-type character. She starts out strong and purpose-full, she's writing a thesis, she has research to do, she moves to Oxford and leaves what's left of her family behind. She knows what she's doing and doesn't let anything in Oxford distract her from her purpose, her research. Until she meets vampire Matthew Clairmont and all of it goes out the window.
Diana had devoted her entire adult life to making sure that the magic that runs in her family doesn't influence her life at all. She didn't want to have anything to do with anything supernatural - yet once she met Matthew, she seemed to forget all this and didn't see anything strange about being friends - and maybe more - with a vampire. I hated that. I can't decide whether this behaviour was more annoying and disturbing in Bella because she's a teen and is a role model for real teenage or girls, or whether it's worse in Diana because she's in her thirties and really should know better by now.
And did I mention that Diana didn't think about Matthew being a vampire at all? Like, at all? She'd have dinner with him, serve him loads of raw meat and then wonder (yes, out loud) what she herself would taste like. And although Matthew got angry and told her never to tempt him, I didn't see any fear at all from her side. No beating herself up for being so stupid, nothing. Like a woman who starts dating someone violent and believes that this time it's different and he would never do anything like that to her. Now there's a great female character to read about.
The Diana character wasn't the only thing that bugged me though. The story didn't really unfold as it should have. All of a sudden all these demons started appearing everywhere and then nothing really happened forever, except for Diana and Matthew going to yoga a few times. Honestly, the endless trips to the library with no action became tiresome and boring.
I was still reading at this point and I wanted to continue and find that it all gets better. But when I got to the part where we got some information about Matthew's past and the vampires were all calling each other Father and Son, I couldn't stomach any more. I don't think you can use those words, insinuate such close bonds, without providing a hell of a back story. A vamp siring another vamp didn't automatically mean closest family, an I'd-do-anything-for-you kind of relationship, at least not to me.
So, the book goes on my DNF list. I know a lot of you really liked it, so I geuss it's one of those books, you either love it or hate it.