Unfounded theory time: I have a sneaking suspicion that these books started out as Twilight fanfiction. And while I can’t prove it, it’s something I’d like you to keep in the back of your mind as we continue to trudge through these recaps.
So, anyway, where were we?
Oxford’s bells chimed seven times. Night didn’t follow twilight as slowly as it would have done a few months ago, but the transformation was still lingering.
It just seems like the “T” word comes up a little too often in a book about vampires. And if you’re going, “Wait, this is called A Discovery of Witches. Where are the vampires?” Well, get ready, because they’re coming. And they’re all… kind of lame.
To catch you up: On Friday, Diana took out a book from the library. She (eventually) opened the book. Then she returned the book. That was chapter one.
Chapter two sees Diana back in the library the following Monday. This plot is galloping along.
Sean the librarian — who is in love with Diana, because all men are — has taken off for the day, and there’s bad news for our hero:
[…][T]he person working at the call desk was new. She’d given me some trouble when I requested one crumbling item and tried to convince me to use microfilm instead.
That seems… reasonable? Am I wrong?
The reading room’s supervisor, Mr. Johnson, overheard and came out of his office to intervene.
Mr. Johnson (a man, thank heavens) tells her she can have whatever she wants, and apologizes to her about the “new staff”. So Diana isn’t just a Mary Sue, she’s the full embodiment of a Boomer fantasy: a woman who doesn’t even have to ask for the manager.
But no matter: this scene had zero purpose because a moment later Diana realizes that she doesn’t need the crumbly book, she needs a book on a high shelf that she can get herself. Good thing she ruined the librarian’s day for nothing.
As she’s reaching for it, she once again does a magic because it’s slightly too high for her to grab. As she’s doing a magic, she reminds us that she rarely does magic just in case you forgot.
If you did forget: Diana is very very powerful and magical, but also can’t do basic spells, except sometimes when she can do basic spells.
Let’s skip to the chase:
She magics the book down, and then feels “two icy patches” between her shoulder blades.
Diana doesn’t tell us what this means. Instead, she stops the progression of the plot (sensing a theme?) to fill us in on the layout of the magical alternate universe she occupies. World building!
Here are your cliffs notes:
The world consists of three humanoid yet non-human “creatures”:
Witches are… witches. They’re creatures who look like people but can do spells and stuff. You know the type.
Yes, spelled the Golden Compass way. Another race of creatures who look like people. Here’s the book’s description of them:
[…]creative, artistic creatures who walk a tightrope between madness and genius. “Rock stars and serial killers” was how my aunt described these strange, perplexing beings.
So daemons have incredible talent, but also easily go crazy.
Not every very talented human is secretly a daemon, and not every person struggling with mental health is a daemon. So how do daemons know they’re daemons? What makes a daemon a daemon? Why are they being included in a list with other clearly non-human creatures?
Good questions, reader. Good questions.
No need to clarify. Instead, let’s move on to Door Number Three. The big one. The reason we’re all here.
And there are vampires, ancient and beautiful, who feed on blood and will charm you utterly if they don’t kill you first.
tl;dr Diana is being watched by a (sexy, obviously, otherwise what’s the point) vampire.
Do we now get to meet this vampire? Of course not. We get more exposition.
I must admit that I’m struggling at this point. The book does have goofier elements coming up, but right now it’s just a long slog through stop-and-start exposition. Does it matter? Should I bother? I just don’t know. It’s wearing down my will to live right now. Let’s try to get through it together, okay?
In a further hailstorm of exposition, Diana thinks back on the handful of vampires she’s seen recently, tells us that vampires don’t really hang out in libraries (lol okay), and then gives us even more color commentary on daemons and their absolutely crazy abilities:
[…]there were definitely two daemons in the music reference room. They’d looked up, dazed, as I walked by on the way to Blackwell’s for tea. One told me to bring him back a latte, which was some indication of how immersed he was in whatever madness gripped him at the moment.
I… fine. Absentmindedness is now a magical ability. Lost your keys one time? You’re a daemon. Congratulations.
But forget about daemons because Diana tells us the cold patch means a vampire watching her.
Who is he? What does he want? Is he bringing a plot with him?
Hold your horses, crazy!
Diana gives us another weighty exposition dump. She tells us that vampires mostly do science these days, because science is a subject that rewards long study and patience (unlike… all other academic pursuits or literally any career? But okay) and that scientists tend to have “solitary work habits” which means they’re unlikely to be recognized by anyone but their “closest co-workers”.
I… fine. We’ll go with that.
We jump back to the present. Diana is holding the book she just magic’d down. She turns to face the vampire. Alas! He is in shadow (classic vampire move), but is “lounging against one of the graceful wooden pillars that held up the gallery” (another classic vampire move) holding open “Janet Roberts’s Guide to Scripts Used in English Handwriting Up to 1500” in his hand (less classic).
Diana, expert detective and former child genius, doesn’t think he “need[s] pointers on how to decipher old penmanship” — she thinks he’s watching her!
Now, surely, we will progress forward in this scene, you think.
You think wrong.
Diana stops to tell us All About Vampires:
Anyone who has read paperback bestsellers
Like Twilight, yes, go on
or even watched television knows that vampires are breathtaking, but nothing prepares you to actually see one. Their bone structures are so well honed they seem chiseled by an expert sculptor. Then they move, or speak, and your mind can’t begin to absorb what you’re seeing. Every movement is graceful; every word is musical.
The author goes on to borrow a bit of True Blood and says that vampires have the ability to “freeze” prey with their eyes, but in short the gist is: if you’ve seen even one fictional vampire, you’ve seen ’em all.
Diana gives us all this information, then tells us that actually — if she’s being honest — she’s only technically met one vampire before. A scientist who’d slept with half of Geneva (no explanation for why Diana was in Switzerland), and also wanted to get into Diana’s pants (naturally, all men love her, etc.), but she turned him down.
And anyway, that Swiss vampire is nothing — nothing! — compared to the gorgeous creature lingering in shadows and reading about penmanship.
Who could he be?!
Well, you’ll just have to wait for the next update to find out. Because all this goddamn exposition ate up our time.
Yell at me in the comments.