Monday, May 14, 2018

Wyrd and Wonder: Audiobook Review of A Discovery of Witches By Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Publisher: Penguin Audiobooks
Release Date: February 8, 2011
Format: Audiobook narrated by Jennifer Ikeda
Source: Audible
My Rating: 

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD

A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries - and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series - with an extra serving of historical realism.
So this is a book that I don't think I normally would have picked up. It ended up being not what I expected at all, but I found myself really just interested in where this story was going. I've been trying to read more adult fantasy, and I think this one falls under the Contemporary Fantasy category, which is definitely a subgenre that I want to read more books from. I actually never heard the term until Wyrd and Wonder!

A Discovery of Witches is an unorthodox pairing of mythology and history with just a dash of science. It was cool to read about a character like Diana who is so career minded and is able to prove herself in a battle of wits with fellow academics. Even when they are bad, bad, witches that probably want to kill her! Diana is so stubborn and she doesn't back down, which is what endeared me to her so much. I also like that the whole time when both the witches and the vampires are telling her to stay away from Matthew Clairmont, she's just thinking, "fucckkk that!" Okay, maybe not in so many of those words, but that is definitely the feeling that the narrator of this audiobook gave me with her performance. I haven't read a lot of books where the main characters are academics, so it was a treat for me to read about Diana and Matthew and how important their work is to them. It's really refreshing to read a fantasy novel that has people actually holding down real jobs. 

Jennifer Ikeda, the narrator of this book did an awesome job. This is a massive book, it's 24 hours on audio and that's with listening to it on 1.15 speed! It took me a very long time to get through this audio, but I wouldn't say that it was boring in the least. Unlike other books of it's size, this audio was a joy to listen to. Ikeda really brought out the emotions in this novel, and I think she did alright with the various accents in this one. Her Scottish accent for Hamish was little shaky, but I think her accent for Matthew and his mother's French accent were really good! Although, being American I can't really judge those accents, so don't take my word for it. I believe she does the narration for the other books in this series, and I already have the second book in my queue.

Another thing I liked about this novel was how much it tied in with Alchemy and how influential it was historically. I've actually been doing some research on Alchemy for a WIP I'm working on, so it was really cool to hear some familiar concepts in this book about witches! I am definitely intrigued about where this story is going. 

Have you read the All Souls Trilogy? What do you like about them? (NO SPOILERS for the other books, please!)

Happy Reads Everyone!