Okay, you guys know I like to keep it positive around here, but sometimes books strike a nerve and I have to vent my feelings about them. It's especially hard to keep those thoughts to myself when I've put in over 60 hours listening to audio books, like I have with Deborah Harkness's A Discovery of Witches historical fantasy trilogy. If I'm going to spend that long with a single story, it better be gol-darn amazing—and by the time I finished the third book, I realized that while there were some things I really liked about the series, there were also some elements that stuck unpleasantly in my craw.
Is the series likely to be enjoyable for you? In this latest edition of “It's Not You, It's Me: When You and a Book Don't Click,” here are a couple lists I have prepared that may help you decide.
This trilogy has A LOT OF:
Lengthy descriptions. Of yoga classes, wine, tea, and interior décor.
Sex scenes made awkward by the utter seriousness with which they are described.
Male chauvinism and possessive, controlling behaviors depicted as if they are sexy and not potentially abusive.
Historical references. To Marlowe, Shakespeare, and a bunch of other people you may have heard of if you were a history major.
Characters with foreign accents. Respect to the audio book narrator, who nails most of them.
Vomit. There is literally what seemed to me to be higher-than-average per capita instances of vomiting.
Character decisions that don't make sense. One example of many: “There's a woman being held captive and repeatedly raped and tortured?! Oh well, we don't know where she is, I guess there's nothing we can do, how about those DRAPES though?!”
This trilogy has VERY LITTLE OF:
Page-turning action. (The entire second book, despite being well over 20 hours in audio format, advanced the plot not one inch. They time-traveled to the 16th century and literally nothing happened with the central plot.)
Romance of the type I personally find appealing. Oh, your male lead is a secret-hoarding, narcissistic jerk who might lose control and harm his woman physically at any moment? And here I was, getting off on feelings of safety and commitment. Don't I feel sheepish!
Compelling mystery. When the “big bombshell” of the entire series feels like a letdown, slapped together, freshman-English-essay-is-due-tomorrow bullshit-fest, maybe it's a sign you could have spent less time with the fine paintbrush on the crown moldings and Louis XIV furniture and a little more time on plot development.
Bottom line: If you liked Twilight but wished it had been nerdier, you'll probably love A Discovery of Witches.