I’m not one to generally read debut novels unless I hear from a friend that it’s great. However, with all of the great books coming out of Dutton recently, when they reached out to me about this one and I was intrigued by the blurb, I of course said yes.*
This being said, I of course probably should’ve re-read the blurb on the back before I started, but I didn’t and it was a bit of a shocker to all of a sudden be thrown into a plane crash! But if I would’ve re-read the blurb I would’ve remembered that it was set in Boston, and a large part of my excitement reading the book would’ve been lost! Thankfully, it was well written and interesting AND I got to experience the Boston portions as if I had NO idea (because I didn’t) that they were there! Seriously, she spent a half page on Anna’s Taqueria! [Anna’s website] Swoon!
If you want a hilarious read that will have people looking at you funny on public transportation, then this should definitely be on your list. I was having a bad week when I started this and within the first 10 pages I was smiling and noticing small things around me that made my week 100 times better.
I first heard of this book in one of the final Books on the Nightstand episodes (Podcast link) and thought it sounded intriguing. So when someone from Dutton reached out to me about a review copy I jumped at the opportunity.* But first a brief aside.
I must say Dutton is hitting it out of the park with books I enjoy! I have at least one, but probably two more upcoming books that I’m planning to read from them on my shelf. This doesn’t count for the numerous I’ve already responded to including Ally Hughes Has Sex Sometimes from late 2015 and Fool Me Once and The Stranger from earlier this year. And I haven’t even said yes to all of them, some of the others didn’t fit what I wanted to read at the time, but overall I’ve enjoyed them! Now on to my response.
It’s very rare that a series starts off and continues to pick up steam the entire way through. In my previous experience, there is usually a middle-book slump. In the case of Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy the middle book of the trilogy, Shadow of NIght, was the stand out, followed closely by The Book of Life and in a distant third, the trilogy opener A Discovery of Witches.
This could be because the entire series takes place over about a year (give or take a few months because of time travel), but more than likely I think it has to do with the amount of action continuously increasing as the series moved forward. This wasn’t necessarily a good thing as I’ll talk about below, but that’s my conjecture. Continue reading →
I probably would have read this book closer to its release, but unfortunately it’s part of a trilogy (this followed by (Shadow of Night and The Book of Life) and I didn’t want to read the books as they came out so I waited to read it. I really wanted to read it a lot sooner because a lot of my blogger friends who really enjoyed it. That being said, I’m a little grumpy as I’ve just found out that Harkness will continue writing in this universe with the release of The Serpent’s Mirror next year. So bah.
If I had to break this down into a one sentence review it would be: Harry Potter meets Twilight for adults. That’s definitely a bit reductionist, but as I was reading that’s what I kept thinking. It wasn’t as much of a compulsive read as either of those series, but A Discovery of Witches definitely stands on its own.
As with The Warlock, I wish I had as much enthusiasm and glowing things to say about this book as I did the first time I read it. I picked up this copy way back in 2013 and it’s sat on my shelf since then. I’m glad I’ve re-read them so I can clear up the shelf space now. (I didn’t even technically read it this time as I checked out digital copies from the library to take to China to save space :-D)
It is still a great read and an amazing conclusion to the series, but it’s just not as full of impact or as powerful as I remember it being. This is because of the big reveals in The Warlock that I wrote about at the end and how that reveal is then discussed and explained (and even sort of thrown away) in this book. For me, it’s the reveal I talk about in the next paragraph that made the re-read so hard. It’s one of those things, similar to an unreliable narrator, that is just a major turn off for me when it comes to a book.
Now that we’re to the final two books in the series, I have something to refer back to. As I mentioned when I responded to The Alchemyst, I’ve previously responded to The Warlock and The Enchantress. The Warlock was Book 49! That’s almost 400 books ago in the life of this blog. WHOA.
All I have to say, upon re-reading my response, is wow what naivety! What youth! What excitement! I’m clearly a bit more jaded on this re-read and I did NOT re-read every book again before each book was released, but I do still agree with the fact that the books were a bit thin on subject matter even though they took place over only a matter of days. There’s things missing that I think would’ve been great to include and there are things included (multiple times in some cases) that I was not interested in.
Just a head’s up some of the things I talk about in this book may be from The Warlock, my quotes got merged and I’m still not sure what was in which book because I re-read them so fast.
One of the things you have to be careful of reading this series is that Scott doesn’t throw away names. Even the minor characters that he only mentions in passing are incredibly important and historical factual philosophers, warriors and politicians (or at least the immortals are). From ancient Chinese philosophers to British authors (I forgot to mention Shakespeare last post), Scott must’ve mined history for so many of the characters he uses/mentions.
In this book, Sophie and Josh’s life/world not only falls apart, but it is mercilessly ripped apart. Their eyes are opened to a number of things which begin the processes that end the series. These processes and the truths/lies they reveal are what had me hesitant about re-reading the series. They’re WONDERFUl the first time you read the series, but going back to the series it makes them a bit less so.