As a child, I believed in vampires.
It was a mixture of both fear and excitement. Part of me was all, hey, vampires are cool. They live forever. The other part of me was thinking, wait… that means I’d have to feed on blood for the rest of my life??
Of course that was more about the western vampire than the Chinese vampire. I mean, have you seen those Chinese movies with vampires? They stick out their arms in front of them and hop. Hop hop hop. I kid you not. Here’s a picture. Or two.
Back to the western vampire. They are always portrayed as these charming, enigmatic creatures, are they not? Perhaps not in some tales like The Strain and The Passage, which are more zombie-like and parasitic and frankly quite gross. But I guess I’m talking about the beautiful vampire, the kind portrayed by Brad Pitt, long haired, gorgeous. Or somewhat gorgeous. Somehow I remember him being more good-looking than that? Teenaged eyes or something I guess?
And here is that charming vampire again, this time in A Discovery of Witches. He’s not just charming, tall and well built, he’s rich, he’s French, he’s well read, and an academic/scientist! What more could you ask for?
Ok so I kinda fell for him too. Because if this book were just about Diana, witch and not-witch (she is the last of the Bishop witches – who were one of the original Salem witches – but refuses to use magic) I wouldn’t have finished it. She’s occasionally irritating and quite childlike at times. She’s also an academic who’s visiting Oxford, her topic the history of science. And a bit too smug about it: “What got me away from Madison was my intellect. It had always been precocious”. I felt like taking that mystical magical book that is the focus of this book and conking her on her noggin with it. It also helped that the story opens in a library, but not just any library but the Bodleian.
“Bewitched books? Daemons following you? Vampires taking you to yoga? Witches threatening a Bishop?”
There’s something for everyone in A Discovery of Witches. Witches, vampires, daemons, magic, alchemy, science, history, evolution, and yes, yoga (Now that would be an unforgettable movie scene)…. Yeah, go on, stuff them all in there. That’s right. But essentially it is a romance between a witch and a vampire. I suppose there might be comparisons to Twilight etc (or so some reviews on GoodReads seem to suggest) but I’ve yet to read that so I am blissfully ignorant.
A Discovery of Witches was a relatively fun read. I’ve been trying to figure out what would be the autumn/Halloween equivalent of a beach read? A trick-or-treating read? I.e., the book to read while waiting for trick-or-treaters with candy? The winter-storm read? I.e. here in the bay area it’s all grey and gloomy and a little chilly thanks to an early winter storm that’s got the Weather Channel and the media all in a tizzy. I have to warn you that it’s not all that action-packed so it might not be for everyone. And as I mentioned earlier, you just want to give it some time because Diana is around a lot in the beginning. Too much. It does have a fantastic vampire in Ysabeau, who was probably my favourite character (she’s the male vampire’s ‘mother’). I would say that it would probably make a great RIP read, especially since it ends on Halloween. Oh! More importantly, it’s the first of a series. I didn’t know that until I was halfway through! And when I finished it, I wondered, why oh why must they always leave things hanging? That’s the thing about series isn’t it? Oh well. I’ll see if the next one will be worth reading…