It’s a Vampire Thing

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.  Let me tell you about it.

Diana Bishop is a witch.  Descended from the Bridget Bishop herself.  But she really doesn’t want to be.  Even though most of us—at least the Harry Potter generation—couldn’t possibly fathom not wanting superpowers, I suppose having your parents murdered and dismembered because of their extraordinary skills might dampen your enthusiasm for the occult.  Despite signs that she has unusual skill and power, Diana has chosen to turn her back on her witchy inheritance and become a historian instead.  Focused on her research on alchemy and its influence on present-day scientific research, she only requests the manuscript Ashmole 782 to take notes on it.

As soon as she touches it though, she can feel that it is bound in magic.  Determined not to be drawn in, she only glances at it before returning it to the stacks.

Unbeknownst to her, Ashmole 782 is an incredibly sought after magical book, one that all ‘creatures,’ vampires, daemons, and witches, have been searching out for hundreds of years.  Diana’s accidental interference with its spell sends out a wave of energy that attracts these creatures to her, at Oxford University.

One of these creatures happens to be the tall, impossibly handsome Matthew Clairmont (he doesn’t sparkle, but he is compared to statues quite a lot).  Unsurprisingly, despite the fact that witches and vampires are not known to interact, and actually are forbidden to have relationships by the Congregation (a forum of creatures if you may), Matthew and Diana fall in love.  An impossible love that endangers both of them.  And he tells her things like, “I’m too dangerous for you.  I’m a killer.  You don’t know the things I’ve done!”  And she recklessly disagrees with him and scares him with her recklessness and he thinks she is so brave, even though she faints a lot so he has to carry her—everywhere it seems like.


And the bad vampires and witches are trying to force Diana to retrieve Ashmole 782 for them, and even capture and torture her but she manages to escape with Matthew’s help.  She discovers that her parents tied up her magic so that she wouldn’t be able to use it, to protect her from the other witches, and the Congregation, and probably some other stuff that we don’t know about.  Even with her magic ‘spellbound,’ Diana can still do ridiculously powerful stuff like create and control wind, fire, and water, and travel through time. Diana and Matthew start their own anti-Congregation called the Conventicle, with some other like-minded creatures, and decide to go back in time so that Diana can safely learn to use her powers from witches in the 1500’s.

Though I’m understandably excited about the next book where they will be traveling in time, I really hope Diana stops being such a sap, and stops moaning about how much she loves Matthew and how handsome and mysterious and powerful and dangerous he is.  And how he smells like cloves.  He is just one step away from sparkling and playing vampire baseball.  There’s also a lot of talk about wine, and what it smells like, and where it’s from, but it turns out Harkness is some sort of wine enthusiast with an ‘award-winning blog’ so maybe she couldn’t help herself.

I was a huge advocate for this book until about halfway through, which is when Diana started to get suspiciously Bella-like.  First, even though she has been portrayed as an intelligent, independent woman, she almost immediately becomes a Bella-like mess once Matthew is in the picture.  He sneaks into her room the first night they meet.  Sure, it’s to ransack her apartment, not watch her sleep, but he then continues down the path of Edward Cullen-like poutiness, emotional control, and weirdly possessive behavior.  He marries Diana without asking–or even telling–her.  Apparently vampires mate for life, so once he made up his mind, and she kissed him, she’s married even without her consent.  Not that Diana isn’t thrilled to be married to someone that won’t talk to her about his past, won’t consummate the marriage, and claims he’s entitled to jealous fits of possessive rage (it’s a vampire thing).

I’m really hoping Diana gets to be an adult in the next one.


About rhymenocerous

rhymenocerous combines a fondness for hip hop with her love of the serengeti. Her soft spot for kids in space is eclipsed only by her passion for time-travelling children. She eats too much cake and frequently pretends her dachshund speaks French. View all posts by rhymenocerous

One response to “It’s a Vampire Thing

  • Princess Consuela

    Really jumping on the Twilight creepy train, isn’t she? Not only does she have a Cullen clone, but she adds in the added bonus of imprinting to appease Team Jacob. I remain a staunch member of Team Jasper as the only supernatural of the bunch who saw the benefits of killing Bella and putting us all out of our misery.

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