Top critical review
A GOOD SCENARIO SPOILED BY AN OVERCROWDED AND LOOSE PLOT
20 July 2018
Contemorary Fantasy, 'Discovery Of Witches', by Deborah Harkness left me with conflicting thoughts, mostly on the negative side.
The MCs: American PhD in history, Diana Bishop was studying Alchemy at Oxford. She was also an orphan and a beautiful and clever witch. At Oxford, Diana came across an ancient manuscript (Ashmole 782) which connected her to the supernatural, its secrets and how magical beings might be destroyed. 1,500 year-old vampire, Matthew Clairmont was a deep thinker who was wealthy, stylish, vibrant, intriguing, controlling and gifted. Could he be trusted? The antagonists were driven by the improper and unnatural love between a witch and a vampire and viewed their relationship as a betrayal. Sounds good...right? The imagery was vivid; the connections between events and motivations of characters were interesting; and Deborah's writing style showed talent and she seemed comfortable with merging the magic/science/history elements. Why my conflict?
1. The story was a bit ridiculous at times (although engaging at others).
2. The characters, their circumstances and the settings were contrived and pedestrian. (Sometimes things didn't add up.)
3. The build-up and tension leading to the climax was obvious and lacked subtitles. The climax came a little early, so the denouement was long.
4. The plot flow was interrupted by a crowding of information and by clumsy pacing. (The complexities of the plot were overly ambitious, imo.)
5. There were a lot of secondary characters (I guess because it's book 1 of a series, but it was overloaded with their backstories and details).
6. It needed a final edit.
7. The passion spiralled into a clichéd romance and the promised fear factor fizzled.
If the other two books are full of the same problems then the proposed TV series will need someone to unravel what is basically a good scenario and make it tighter, edgier and more logical. But based on book 1, I won't be investing my time in the following two.