Monday, December 19, 2011

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Rating 3.5 out of 5
Hardcover: 592 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (February 8, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0670022411
ISBN-13: 978-0670022410

I sourced some book club questions to review this book. I have tried my best not to reveal any spoilers, and picked questions that did not reveal much - enjoy!

What was your first impression of the book?
Honestly I nearly didn't even pick this book up because it was so BIG. I don't have a lot of time to read and thought of committing to such a book was daunting. But the blurb sold me; a historian, a library, a magic book, vampires, witches and a mystery. All of my favourite things in a book.

What do you think Ashmole 782 reveals?
Not entirely sure but it is probably far more then what all the interested groups think (which seems to be the way to destroy each other). The book was hidden from ALL the creatures which I find very interesting considering a witch spell bound the book from other witches. Given that a theme through A Discovery of Witches evolution and the origins of species I suspect Ashmole 782 is the supernatural version of Darwin's Origin of Species.

Do you think the Congregation is mostly interested in stopping Matthew and Diana's relationship? In getting control of Ashmole 782? Or do you think there is some hidden agenda?
The congregation knows more then it has clearly let on. There is far more going on then just racism and  an outdated agreement between the three creature races. I don't think the Congregation knows all the answers (and thus their interest in the manuscript and in understanding Dianna) but they clearly know it is bad news for the Congregation, for them to have interracial (inter species?) relationships.

Early in the novel, Harkness describes the typical personalities and physical traits of daemons, witches, and vampires. If you could be any one of these beings, which would you choose and why? A witch because they seemed to get the best of both worlds. Daemons tend to be kinda crazy (in our eyes), and Vampires are well dead and are slaves to their basic instincts. Witches get a whole swag of awesome powers and just seem cooler. Even the bad witches were pretty kick ass.

What did you think of the blend between magic, science, and alchemy?
The inner logical scientist in me really liked this blend. Giving scientific explanations to the creatures in the book (to a point). I really hope this continues through the rest of the trilogy and more explanations are given.

Most interesting character?
Yasabau. I would have loved to learn more about her and hopefully we do in future books. I was amazed given how long she has lived, the experiences she has had and the trials she has endured that quite frankly she wasn't completely bat guano crazy.

Weird fact about the book?
Elias Ashmole was a real person who studied Alchemy in the 1700's. Ashmole 782 is a real manuscript and it is currently missing!

Was there anything about the book you didn't like?
The fact the ending dragged. When it became clear the story would continue into the next book and there was no definite ending as such, the ending just seemed to go on and on.

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