Monday, June 18, 2012

Cookalong With: A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness is a book that's too long for its own good. I really liked it for the first couple hundred of pages and found myself swept up in the story of a world where witches, vampires, and daemons live alongside humans and become drawn into conflict with each other when a non-practicing witch uncovers a rare and magical manuscript from Oxford's Bodleian Library. It had all of the light, entertaining qualities you'd expect to find in this kind of book, plus some interesting historical details and an Oxford setting that was bound to appeal to me. I was pretty sure I had a real page-turned on my hands. Then I hit a point where my interest just waned. I realized that all of the new, magical revelations that kept coming one after another weren't really leading to anything. It felt like the author was trying to set the stage for the sequel rather than build a strong plot that could stand on its own in this book. And while I started out easily overlooking a few instances of cheesy writing and characterization, they began to grate on me after 500+ pages.

On a positive note, there was one scene that really stuck with me: While eating at a local diner, the main character (who is basically this book's version of Brad Pitt's character in Ocean's Eleven and is munching on something throughout most of the novel) orders a big breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast. When the waitress brings it, she includes a side of roasted vegetables. For some reason, this combination, though nothing groundbreaking, just sounded so good to me. I couldn't get it out of my head and decided to recreate a version of it for myself.

I tossed some chopped mixed vegetables (I used one potato, one onion, and some cherry tomatoes) in olive oil and salt and roasted them on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. When they were done, I topped them with a couple of poached eggs. It was as satisfying a meal as I had imagined it to be.

Bottom line: If you're a huge fan of the magical creatures genre, you may want to give the book a try. If not, skip it and make some veggies and eggs for breakfast instead.

1 comment:

  1. Oh wow you really hit the nail on the head with that book! I felt the same way, only in reverse -- I thought there was too much lead up before they got anywhere with the story -- but.....I did really like it, all in all, and I will right there reading the sequel when it comes out. YES, about all the food! And the tea, I loved reading about all the tea she drank. Your b-fast looks divine!!!



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