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Thursday, July 28, 2011
Book review: A Discover of Witches by Deborah Harkness
My dear sister in law Amery lent me this book a few weeks ago. The story revolves around its most-of-the-time narrator, Diana Bishop, who is a witch, and Matthew Clairmont, a vampire, a mysterious book called Ashmole 782 that all witches, vampires and daemons (all three of which also go by the more general term Creatures) want to get their sparkly, supernatural hands on. I kid, I kid, no one sparkles, but the vampires do daywalk, and they don't have fangs, and they don't seem to like gratuitous sex which, as a True Blood fan, completely mystifies me. Anyways, I digress.
The book is pretty rad, but while Harkness says she came up with the idea after wondering what jobs vampires would have, I think she basically had a grown up lady fantasy about an adult Edward Cullen because the middle chunk of this book has some serious similarities to the Twilight mess that is Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, mainly that the vampire man does not want to let the mortal woman live her own life, nor does he want to bone her although he will partake in foreplay as long as the power of the situation remains solely in his hands. Look, I'm no feminazi, but that shit really drives me insane. I'm no nymphomaniac either but if two consenting adults are in bed and naked and messing around and the women says Let's Do This and the guy says No, Let's Wait, We Have Forever (no you don't asshole, Diana is mortal), I call bullshit in a major way. Has Harkness ever MET a man? Anyways, just when I was about to put the book down, or burn it, apologize to Amery and then buy her another one, it was as if Harkness herself was like, "Whoa, oh my God, I need to stop reading Teen Beat and watching Twilight previews on You Tube" and pulled much of the focus on Diana and Matthew and put it on the actual cool stuff. But I digress
There are the daemons which are semi insane, creative whirlwinds and originally I figured she meant like, demons but apparently doesn't. And I think they're mortal just like witches. She doesn't quite explain much about them, but the more masterful ones are the less insane. And then there are the witches which aren't Wiccan idiots burning sage and saying Blessed be to each other, but can actually do spells, fly, cast witchfire, witchwater and witchwind, levitate, etc etc. The vampires do bite, don't drink synthetic blood and don't sparkle, but they also walk around during the day, do yoga (yeah, you heard), don't have fangs, and can actually eat some foods like nuts and raw venison. They also drink a crapload of wine which instantly earned my respect.
So those are the creatures. And the Ashmole 782 is an enchanted book that might possibly explain everything about the creatures and their origins, how to destroy some and some other stuff, but it was enchanted in order to keep that stuff away. No one knows and everyone wants to know. Enter Diana, who is a witch but doesn't want to be, and who is also a studier of alchemical texts, of which this Ashmole thing is one. Lo and behold, despite the fact that she suppresses her powers (and boy does she have them), she is able to not only call up the text (apparently even checking it out at the library is impossible for everyone, save her), but able to open it. The book sighs under her hand as if out of relief. It sounds lame when I write it but it was actually a pretty cool scene.
So this is the plot. There's also witch DNA, vampire extinction, time travel, a crapload of ghosts and a New England house that can grow rooms, hide objects and basically express how it has the emotional range of a hormonal teenage girl. Which also sounds lame but was also pretty cool, and also super last minute since no where in the several hundred page book does it get mentioned except towards the end when they go there. I mean, if my house grew rooms and got mad at me from time to time, that's something I would bring up in conversations with vampires because hey, right up the supernatural alley, amiright?
I really loved this book, despite the Bella/Edward tinges, and it is apparently the first in a trilogy which sucks because I read the Harry Potter series and I HATE WAITING FOR BOOKS. So Harkness, get to it!