I loved this book when it first came out and I have to say that my re-read of this was painful. Why did I like this so much? Did I not see that Matthew was uber possessive which is my least favorite hero trait? The constant endearments in French may me roll my eyes. Also the Mary Sueness of Diana was beyond ridiculous. She gets powers on top of powers and also decides that the only thing that matters is her love for Matthew. She started to turn me off way before we get to the ending. And the way that Harkness just drops how pretty much Matthew met every historical figure you can think of in this one (it gets worse in book #2) it started to get even more ridiculous. There are info dumps galore and besides some of the historical aspects of this book, this is just "Twilight" for adults with no sparkly vampires.
"A Discovery of Witches" follows Diana Bishop. Diana is living in England and while at Oxford, ends up requesting a book, but a book that comes to her is a bewitched alchemical manuscript. When Diana touches the book something starts happening to her. After this, a vampire comes calling named Matthew Clairmont, who is a a vampire geneticist. Yes, this is a real thing I guess. In this world we have vampires, witches, and daemons just hanging out. Matthew is interested in the book since there seems to be some issue with vampires not being able to turn people without the person being turned dying.
I will say something nice here. The parts with Diana and Matthew in Oxford were really good. I forgot how much I loved that part. And it reminds me a bit of how Pullman played/changed up things in "His Dark Materials" when we follow Lyra at Oxford. But after that the book just drops down to repetitive and boring.
Diana and Matthew are quickly on the run from a magical organization and are in France and then Massachusetts hiding out (barely) with their families. I just didn't care about Diana's parents secret, or her magic. The whole book was pretty much Diana and Matthew constantly reaffirming their love and then them obsessing when one of them wasn't in the same room with each other. Also why are these two together? I didn't get deep and lasting love at all initially and then somehow they were just in thrall with each other. I just don't know. There's no there there. Diana somehow becoming super witch made me think about Katrina from Sleepy Hollow and how she was seriously the worse witch ever. Oh there's also vampire yoga which I never want to read about again.
I can't say much about the other characters. We get glimpses of them and that makes me sad. When I first read this, I loved the idea behind Matthew's "mother," "son," etc. And this book only makes them characters who give info-dumps throughout this book. I really wanted someone to shake both Matthew and Diana and tell them to get over themselves.
The writing started off well, but then it just tapers off slowly until we get to the end where I was going is it over yet? No? Another freaking chapter? I forgot how long this book is (594 pages) and it really really needed edited down. A lot. And don't get me started on the whole hey species can't really be with each other sexually and have kids which someone got overly explained via DNA, chemistry, and then alchemy which resulted in me not giving one crap. That was pretty much the whole book. We get told something via a character and then somehow the rules get thrown out five minutes later (see vampires and witches can't marry). It got aggravating after a while. Also there's like I think three secret organizations referenced in this damn book. I could not after a while.
The flow was awful after a while. It's just Matthew and Diana running off, her getting kidnapped, hurt, healing, Matthew calling her a lion or whatever that was, and then Diana and Matthew listening as people told them well now this is happening and or now this is what this means while drinking tea.
The setting of the book from Oxford, France, Massachusetts just started to run together after a while. The Bishop family house and ghosts were cool though. That's all I got.
The ending ends on a cliffhanger (which I hate) and we know we have to follow the second book to see what happens next.