Diana Bishop is from a long line of witches, but she’s refused to use her magic since her parents got killed in Africa when she was seven. She’s now an adult studying at Oxford, and is not happy when a magical book flops across her path in her library. She’s even less happy when hoards of witches, vampires, and daemons begin to follow her around after she sends the magic book back to the stacks. Magic, it seems, can’t be avoided any longer.
I listened to this audiobook on the three-day trip from San Antonio to Boston, and I’m in two minds about it. I’ll get the negative side over with first.
The book was really, really long. I chose the audiobook at random, thinking that I’d listen to it and several others along the trip. No. Even listening at double speed, it took the entire trip. Now, I’m not opposed to lengthy books or audiobooks, not at all. But some of the length of this book felt like it could have been cropped. I didn’t need the descriptions of every yoga move, every sip of wine, every old book description, etc. There were certain parts that felt like “areas of specialty” that got hashed over a bit too often, and some of them could easily have been cut. Beyond that, there were a bit too many “I’m stronger, faster, deadlier than you” scenes that made me uncomfortable along the romance lines. I just don’t find the idea of someone grabbing a person and holding/threatening them “romantic.” Lastly, by the end, I felt like the plot line had gone on too long for a single book, and I was ready for the story to be over long before it ended. There were several moments that felt like perfect ends that would segue into further books…but then it kept going, instead.
On the good side, I really loved the character development and the way that Harkness pushed her three magical creature-groups into learning to accept each other. Other than the bit I mentioned above, I liked the slow way the romance developed. I liked the unveiling of truth behind Diana’s refusal to do magic, and the implications that there is more to learn. I loved how seamlessly this world fit into ours, as if it could really exist. Most of all, I loved the importance of family – blood and not-blood – of this book. That’s a topic that’s very important to me and especially poignant in my life right now, so I loved the feeling of home that permeated this book.
I’m definitely not ready to dive right into the next book, but I do know that I’ll want to read it in time. This is one series that I think would have been better had I read them as they came out, rather than waiting until all three books were released. I imagine I’ll read the second one during the fall, as I’m sure it’ll make awesome autumn reading!
Performance: Jennifer Ikeda read this audiobook and she was a fantastic reader. Many of the characters in the book came from different parts of the world, with different accents, and while I normally find accents to be badly performed on audio, to the point of personal embarrassment, these were fantastic. Ikeda really helped me to feel part of the world.