Guest Review #7: A Discovery of Witches – Deborah Harkness
  • Posted:
  • September 19, 2012
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Oh for heaven’s sake, Bibliopunkk, you’re reading and reviewing a fantasy novel! Anyone can do it; it’s as easy as commenting on a blog post! Step aside and watch as a paid professional knocks this one out of the park in time for a pre-lunch scotch:

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop, descendant of the famous Bridget Bishop of Salem, Massachusetts, unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. I’m guessing she put in the Library of Congress number on the interlibrary request form, but the circulation clerk thought it was a Dewey Decimal number. Whoopsers. She finds hidden writing moving on its pages, which indicates to her either DARK POWER MADE MANIFEST or mild dyslexia. Coming from an old lineage of distinguished, high-society witches, Diana wants nothing to do with that phantasmagorical hokum-and-hex; so after a sophomore-style skimming and a few notes, she chucks it back in the reshelve bin and moves on with her life. But it turns out that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, as anyone who’s done a Google image search with SafeSearch off knows, and now the magical shadows realms are all kerfuffled up the wazoo. Next thing you know, a gaggle of gremlins, bogums, and howly things swarm upon the library like slack-jawed freshmen the week before final papers are due. And there’s one bloodsucking Lothario who just can’t get enough of her scholarly booty: Matthew Clairmont, a dreamy-eyed biochem/neurology professor who’s DARK and MYSTERIOUS…
Rife with baroque circumlocution and narrative exigency it’s not a bad book, honest it’s not; it’s formula – Accursed text, librarian lady with a noteworthy New England family heritage, biochem professor… (Seriously, enough with all the hunky biochem professors!) I mean, the prose is gorgeous and atmospheric but I… like the things that… happen with their bodies, and, er…the, ah, searching-for-father motif, and—
BAH! Enough of this calamitous nonsense! I quit! You win this round, Bibliopunkk! I leave you to your parapunk steam-normal urban romantic fantasias and return to my dominion of long-winded and pedantic academic narratives!
– Greg Baldino is a herp-da-derp freelance writer in the nerpy-nerp of Chicago. Herp-a-nerp-derp him at @gregbaldino.

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