Monday, April 11, 2011

"A Discovery of Witches"

I read this article because it mentions Outlander (it's referred to as "Cross Stitch" here).  But I SQUEEEEED profusely at this article because it's about a book that seems to be about a romance between a vampire from the 16th century and a time-traveling, modern day "reluctant witch".  Is it real??? Could it be??? My FAVORITE elements: history...vampires...witches...the 16th century...time travel...romance - all seem to be tied up in a pretty little package and have fallen in my lap!

PS - The author - Deborah Harkness admits to being a huge Diana Gabaldon fan.  WORD.


  1. I haven't read A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES, but FWIW, Diana has not been very enthusiastic about the book in her comments on Compuserve recently.

    Look here, for example. (Warning, there are SPOILERS for ADOW in that thread!)

    On the other hand, the book is certainly very popular, so maybe it's worth a try?


  2. I listened to A Discovery of Witches last month (I get through most books on audio nowadays while driving)and absolutely loved it. Matthew Clairmont the vampire is a wonderful character and the best news is - its part 1 of a trilogy -so many more hours of pleasure to come. It has a slow build and the author goes into incredible detail of Oxford, the colleges and the Bodleian library, but if you like that kind of work, this is worth trying! I'd just been on a tour of the library and my son is a student so it brought the city to life for me. The time travelling for real doesn't actually start in earnest until Book 2.

  3. East Coast Stacey and I both read it. It does have DG-esque elements: the time travel, and a Scot. EC Stacey really liked it. I had trouble getting into it, but enjoyed it once I got focused. It reminded me mostly of the Fever series. Matthew the vampire is a little Edward Cullen-ish, and his physical description totally sounds like Roger Mac. The main character, Diana, is likeable.
    It's worth a read, but IMO, Matthew & Diana (intellectuals) are no Jamie & Claire (peril orientated). But who is? ;)

  4. I am so excited to read this friggin book I dinna know what to DO with myself, sassenachs. It's like all of my favorite worlds colliding. Stacey, you had me at "is a little Edward Cullen-ish". And 16th century!! That's way earlier than Edward's early 20th centuryness. And time travel! And a Scot! Oh my god I think I have to go lie down.

  5. I haven't read it but may put it on my list.
    Karen's right, I think Diana even remarked about it on Twitter to someone.

  6. I'm reading this book right now! LOVE it! Witches, daemons (usually artists and musicians), vampires, humans, academia--what's not to love?! no time travel yet, but the two main characters, are both academics: a witch (who is a descendent of the Bishops and Proctors of Salem fame)and a 500+ year old vampire. Heaven! --Julie

  7. I have been looking for another series to lose myself in. I have read and re-read all the Outlander Twilght books, this is my next book to read after I finish my latest Outlander series re-read, for sure! Thank you so much Caro!

  8. I've got ADOW downloaded and ready to go, Carol! Say the word and we're reading.

    WCStacey, PLEASE help me convince Carol to read the Fever series...altho, I'm reluctant to share JZB with too many others. ;)

  9. I just wanted to agree with WC Stacey that I love this book. I think of it like I did when reading Outlander. It starts out slow,but with a lot of description and laying down the groundwork. Then the story picks up with exciting plot development.

    Diana is such a strong female character that she reminds me of Claire. Also, Matthew is very Edward Cullen like for those Twilight fans. (Luckily, not so Edward like that you get really annoyed!)Ohh and the time travel! I am so excited about book two!
    (Talk Supe is having a book club discussion of the chapters)

    I just want you all to know that I am ready to start book two of Outlander. (Even though WC Stacey scared me) Maybe you can talk me through it. :0)

    -The other Stacey (EC)

  10. yow! correction: michael the vampire is 1500 years old! -Julie

  11. oh, geez, and his name is Matthew! --Julie

  12. I really loved this book - just stumbled across it, haven't read the Outlander series,(but am familiar with it) but did consume Twilight (Sparkly Vampire Crack) in a few days. I did inititally see this book as a strange hybrid of tons of pop fiction - Harry Potter, Twilight, Michael Crighton, Da Vinci Code, and of course, Outlander.

    It is the combination of all my indulgences - history, witches and vampires, forbidden romance, idealized love, the quest for self discovery, and all wrapped up in a fairy tale backdrop of academic Oxford, a french Castle, and later, Elizabethian England. Just delicious.

    It's hard for me to take this kind of writing seriously, which is why I've stayed away from the Outlander series, but I fell in love with this book, and fell in love with reading just for pleasure again. This book, yes, it has some structural and pacing problems, but I was truly enamored of the writing and her narrative, and also appreciative of her fidelity to the kind of baggage these characters would have after seeing all they had in their lifetimes. I did feel they could have been more knowable, but it IS a fairy tale, and the lack of specificity probably helped me feel more empathy for the protagonist.

    I did read the comments Diane Gabaldon wrote (as listed above) about A Discovery of Witches, and really, I found them incredibly petty and bitchy. Let someone else have a little success, it's not high literature like Outlander, I suppose. She came across as nasty and jealous, and really, made me decide not to read the Outlander series at all. Have a little grace.

    Deborah Harkness made me fall in love with reading again after being in grad school for many years and reading tomes of dull writing. I am forver grateful to her to pull me back into the fantasy world of witches, fairy tales and innocent romance I so loved as a young woman. It was just a lovely ride.

    1. Anonymous - thanks for your review. It's lovely to read something nicely thought-out and well-versed, especially after I do so much street-talkin' and wise-crackin' around here!

      Please reconsider reading the Outlander series. Yes, Compuserve is an internet site...but most people don't follow the Books and Writers Community unless they are Diana Gabaldon fans. point is...Diana was really speaking to a group of "friends" when she posted her remarks...and probably didn't expect a lot of people to read them. She didn't post a blog entry on her website or write an article for a magazine for all to I definitely cut her a break on that one.

      That said - Outlander is fantastic. If you liked A Discovery of Witches and Twilight, you will absolutely fall in love with it. I know you will. Just read the first book and see what you think. (And let us know!) :)

      PS - My All Souls Trilogy blog:

  13. I just finished the first two books in the All Souls Trilogy and the resemblance to Outlander is quite striking in The Shadow of Night. The tension between Diana and Matthew runs parallel to that of Bella and Edward, however, without the constant self doubt and needless insecurity. Thankfully, there is no love triangle with Taylor Lautner. All and all, Outlander is by far my most favorite series but this has been enjoyable and entertaining as I eagerly await the publication of the next installment! Definitely recommend!

  14. I am sorry to see the unfortunate quote from Diana Gabaldon. I have loved the Outlander series for almost twenty years and I have loved the All Souls Trilogy since A Discovery of Witches was published. I view them as very similar sorts of books, sci fi fantasy romance historical novels, a weird genre which was only represented by the Outlander series for a very long time. I wish Diana had not been "snitty" about Deborah Harkness' work. They are both PhDs and do beautiful research. I have met and talked to Deborah Harkness online several times. She is a lovely, kind, and generous person. I would have liked to think the same of Diana Gabaldon. It sounds a bit like jealousy that someone has stepped into the same arena with her, an arena in which she was the only player for a long time, and has done well. I imagine they share a lot of cross over readers. I will continue to await each of their books with great anticipation.

  15. I used to read the Compuserve forum but it’s gone now. What snitty thing did she say?

  16. Hi there! This is my 1st commernt here so I just wanted to give a qujick shout out and say I trulpy enjoy reading through your blog posts.
    Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same topics?
    Many thanks!