A Discovery of Witches – Vampires without fangs should simply be fae instead!
Debut author, Deborah Harkness, throws her name into the Urban Fantasy hat with A Discovery of Witches, book 1 of the All Souls Trilogy. We meet scholar Diana Bishop, a witch who has spent her entire life denying her powers, who in the course of her research accidentally finds a bewitched alchemical manuscript which may hold the deepest secrets of supernaturals. This sends a beacon to practically every species from demons to witches to vampires, putting a big target on her back as they all want to possess this coveted book and only she has the power to unlock its secrets.
Perhaps no one is more curious than Matthew Clairmont, a vampire geneticist who has been searching endlessly for this book to further his own research. Crossing paths with Diana leads down a road neither one expected, and it’s certainly not a road their respective species will tolerate. This leads to Diana being forced to tap into her inner sorceress, but how much power is too much?
I’m sure I’m not the first to comment on the length of this novel. Though to its credit, I have read a number of books that are much shorter and yet they’ve felt even longer. So that is one plus about this series. That said, I think it could have been a shorter book by 50 to 100 pages and the beginning and end suffer for it. It has a slow start and then by the end it feels like a chore to finish.
The story offers shades of originality, blending storytelling, world-building, romance, and suspense. Fans of the lead pair may have to be patient, but I don’t mind the wait at all. Everything is a process. I actually wasn’t expecting to read this novel and get a fairly substantial love story with good characterization.
While it’s a respectable literary effort, I felt there were a few flaws: the length, the length, and FANGLESS VAMPIRES!! I don’t like it and I’m never gonna like it. In the novel, once it finally explains their feeding habits it’s hard to picture what is actually going on. Fangs are a completely efficient tool so I’m not understanding why that important characteristic is starting to be omitted in novels. Allergies to the sun? I can be flexible on that. Hott sex symbol vs. crazed ugly monster? I can be flexible there too if it’s masterfully handled. I could even be flexible on their lifespans (prolonged vs. immortal), but I don’t budge on fangs and this book didn’t change that sentiment. You might as well create werewolves that don’t transform. Vampires without fangs should simply be fae instead.
I am looking forward to reading the second novel; however, normally I am motivated to read a series back to back. For this one, I decided to pick up another book to get a break from this world.