Friday, March 11, 2011

Two Good Reads

A Discovery of Witches: A NovelA Discovery of Witches


A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism
I loved this book and think the review above does a great job of summing it up, although I usually cringe when anything is compared to the Twilight series. I am an unabashed Twilight fan, but the whole new "vampire/werewolf" genre that is trying to ride on its success is full of absolute trash. This book is not in the same category at all, despite 'vampiric' characters and a brief reference to werewolves.
Anyway...this book was a recommendation from a friend who has tossed other great books my way, so I bought it immediately and didn't put it down. Six hundred pages later I was hankering for more and tantalized by the hook at the end which clearly pointed to an upcoming sequel. I will definately be looking out for it!
After finsishing A Discovery of Witches, I felt the need to supplement my diet of fantasy fiction with a little biography/literary criticism. I am a huge Jane Austen fan. I've read several biographies on her and I have one of those neat folio books from Barnes & Noble with maps, pictures, paintings, copies of letters and drawings, among other interesting facts and things about Jane Austen and her life. I've even read Jane Bites Back (in which Jane is actually a vampire and still living today), although I did refrain from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies...

I'm now reading Jane's Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World by Claire Harman. Isn't the cover great!?
I'm only a few chapters into it, but the preface was fascinating. Harman goes into the different ways that Austen's work (plots, titles, and quotations like the intro to Pride and Prejudice) have been used in everything from major news headlines to commercials to movies to operas to Facebook quizzes.

" 'All the reading world is now at Miss Austen's feet,' and a hundred years on, Austen is the only author who is instantly recognizable by her first name." (Preface xx)
That's true, you know! If it's an uncommon name, you could make some guesses. Charlotte. Ernest., wait?


  1. Ok, I need to read this book. I love that its actually 600 pages long!
    And thank you for staying away from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies...

  2. Yeah D of W looks right up my alley. I want to be a young scholar in Oxford who discovers a bewitched manuscript!