A Discovery of Witches, SUBTITLES: Twilight for adults and 'intellectuals'.
This was an enormous disappointment for me, given that there's been so much hype over the book. It is essentially Twilight's 'forbidden love' plot wrapped up in pseudo-intellectual talk, endless cups of tea, naps and yoga. And analysing wine. And constantly smelling each other. Not to mention the whole 'virgin' idea...
1) The essential plot is Twilight
That's right. Matthew Clairmont stalks Diana, smells her, hides by her window to watch her sleep, ransacks her house, invites her to dinner, won't let her do anything that he doesn't want her to do (or if she does, has a massive hissy fit about it) and therefore OF COURSE she falls in love with him. I mean, really? This was sheer laziness on the author's behalf. Clairmont is fairly likeable as a character, but he doesn't have the alien feel to him that Diana keeps mentioning. Like Edward from Twilight, Clairmont denies his nature and goes off to suck the life out of animals (and does so with respect for the animals, therefore making him incredible noble...). He's probably more human than she is. Equally, Diana manages to have whole hordes of creatures following her because they are 'bewitched' by her. Or at least that's what she thinks. Then some big supernatural force comes and tries to kill her and she can't rescue herself (for some unknown reason), so Clairmont has to come and be the hero. Cue big hospital scene.
2) The anti-feminism
I had the biggest problem accepting this. Clairmont is possessive and stalker-ish; he won't let Diana do what she wants, but what he thinks is 'best for her'. Right. She's an adult, and she can probably take care of herself without him. Why not? After all, she's only been doing it for her whole life. She's not allowed to keep secrets, but he is. Diana does actually acknowledge his anti-feminism, but her reaction is, "MEH, okay, I can devolve five hundred years." Clairmont then starts calling her 'wife' without letting her know beforehand that one of the mating rituals of vampires is to fully claim another. So they're bonded for life now. Great. On top of that, he then makes her 'feel like a virgin again', which is downright stupid. The Twilight-ness jumps to the wedding night scene, where, although there are endless kissing descriptions, actual sex is not shown. What really irritated me about this is that Clairmont does not have sex with her. Again. And again. As if he's trying to protect her chastity or some such idiocy. How an intelligent professor got herself into a relationship like this, I will never know.
3) Cups of tea, wine, yoga, naps, smelling stuff
I think I just described half the novel in that list. There is so much filler here, I'm surprised no one caught it. Diana seems overly fascinated by wine, having to describe EVERYTHING (and I do mean everything) about it about a million times throughout the novel. Ditto tea. Her yoga is her meditation, which she's big into since about a fifth of the book is yoga-d away. Naps as well. SO MANY NAPS. And then all the smelling each other, smelling other stuff, just smelling, really, is incredibly dull. Diana's life is actually not that interesting, but the author felt the need to go on anyway.
4) Describing pseudo-intellectual things
DNA and rare books and alchemical processes seem to be the most important thing, more important than moving the plot forward, in fact. It'll annoy the intellectuals and it certainly annoys everyone else. Since the author is a professor, I can see what went wrong here. The intellectual snobbery is almost accidental, in a way, because she clearly expects readers to have the same amount of knowledge on these topics as she does.
5) Where did the rest of the book go?
I get the feeling that this novel was supposed to be about a bigger, non-romantic thing. Oh, wait, yes. It's about a creepy book. I must admit, out of ANYTHING, this might have been its redeeming quality, but it barely ever shows up. Most of the time, it's buried under the sounds of Diana and Clairmont passionately not making love. I was pretty excited when it showed up again, until...
6) Oh yes, THAT...
Apparently Diana is a sort of goddess of witches, with every single power imaginable, and she's going to save everybody. Need I say more about the cliches?
Ultimately, this book was a complete disappointment, which is a shame because it had such a good initial starting point. The most redeeming quality is the fact that half the settings are libraries. Otherwise, don't read it unless you want to find out how to brew tea or do yoga.