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A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
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A Discovery of Witches

by Deborah Harkness

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: All Souls (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,0993841,230 (3.77)284
  1. 182
    The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (clamairy)
    clamairy: Similar themes of magic and academia.
  2. 153
    Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (Anonymous user, SunnySD)
    Anonymous user: Both are epic fantasy novels...time travel, mystery, unlikely love interests.
  3. 131
    The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe (bnbookgirl)
  4. 00
    Overseas by Beatriz Williams (rlb0616)
    rlb0616: No witches or vampires, but it does have time travel. Also, there are many similarities between the two male leads.
  5. 11
    Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell (SunnySD)
    SunnySD: Scholarly heroines, mysterious goings on, and much time spent in libraries...
  6. 45
    The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (bookwyrmm)
  7. 04
    Ghostwalk by Rebecca Stott (Mumugrrl)
    Mumugrrl: Not the same kind of feel as A Discovery of Witches, but it does involve Oxford, alchemy and the ghost of Isaac Newton.
  8. 1016
    Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (happyhinsons)
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» See also 284 mentions

English (373)  Dutch (3)  Finnish (2)  Hungarian (2)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  All languages (382)
Showing 1-5 of 373 (next | show all)
This epic romance combines magical beings, suspense, science, history, and time-travel to compel readers across genre borders. Although she is the descendant of a powerful line of witches, Diana Bishop has rejected her magical powers and turned to academia. But her investigations into a manuscript at Oxford's Bodleian Library draw the attention of the supernatural communities, particularly the notice of Mathew Clairmont, a 1,500-year-old vampire. As deadly creatures hunt Diana, Matthew becomes her ally to both survive and to unravel the secret origins of daemons, witches, and vampires. Eventually, a forbidden love springs between the two, putting them in even more danger. The action travels the globe, and the clues to the puzzle are hidden in the complex family histories of both Diana and Matthew. The intricate plot is driven by Diana and Matthew's quest to solve the manuscript's puzzle while their intense yet taboo romance sizzles. ( )
  ktoonen | Sep 9, 2014 |
Not bad for a vampire-witch love story. And it starts in a library! Woot! ( )
  Ellesee | Sep 1, 2014 |
Witches, vampires, alchemy and a mystery – a few of my favourite things

The first chapter was intriguing enough the make this reader want more and by the time Matthew was introduced I was well and truly hooked.

There is a lot going on in this book and sometimes it is unclear what the main plot line is. It seems that the author, in trying to make her book stand out amongst all the other books on the genre, is trying a bit too hard and throwing everything at it. Reducing some of the themes could have tightened the whole book up. Some of the themes could have been kept in reserved. I did like the use of inter race yoga which was a useful tool to introduce a whole sub-set of characters.

The pace of the book is good and the usage of language interesting. It is intriguing the way the story and the back story are explained via conversation or explanation by either of the two heroes. However, in some places, the book was a tad repetitive. In attempting to change the tone between the two main was different and a cool tool to show Matthew’s his ancient nature.

Apparently this book is compared to the Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels and in comparison it falls short. The protagonist in those books had just one skill and instead of constantly rushing to her vampire for protection she stands up and protects them and al with a great sense of humour.

Diana, an apparently feisty (non-power using) witch (which she must be because we are constantly told that she is) descended from a long line of Salem witches meets a dark and dangerous vampire with astonishing consequences. Initially Matthew is dark and brooding, then he’s all about protecting Diana and eventually a love connection ensues, after a long protracted toing and froing.

I appreciated the introduction of a same sex couple and absolutely loved the bewitched house which was a useful pot tool only revealing things when it thought appropriate. The house had its only identity and agenda and was my most favourite character in the whole book.

The couple’s adventures take them to the university town of Oxford, England to France and Massachusetts, USA and even further afield. It will be interesting to see how the pair fares in book two with their adventures.

Can’t wait for book two and luckily I don’t have to.

Full Disclosure: I received a free copy from Netgalley for an honest review. ( )
  anuttyquilter | Aug 26, 2014 |
If it didn't remind me of Twilight at times, I would give this book 4 stars.
It is much better than Twilight though, so it got a better mark. I like the story.
( )
  Irena. | Aug 26, 2014 |
So boring!!! After reading some 200 pages,there is no plot, no pace. Ugghhh...

Endless wine & tea drinking and blah blah about things which is making me feel sleepy every time I am opening this to read. So that's it. I am not trying to read this anymore. Had to create a new shelf as "abandoned" to honor this one. ( )
1 vote sreeparna | Jul 27, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 373 (next | show all)
"With books about fictional witches, it’s all too easy to fall back on tongue-in-cheek descriptors like “enchanting” or “spellbinding,” but both adjectives aptly describe the superbly entertaining saga Harkness has crafted. This is a riveting tale full of romance and danger that will have you on the edge of your seat, yet its chief strength lies in the wonderfully rich and ingenious mythology underlying the story. Entwining strands of science and history, Harkness creates a fresh explanation for how such creatures could arise that is so credible, you’ll have to keep reminding yourself this is fiction."
 
As will be obvious by now, this is a very silly novel. Characters and relationships are stereotyped. The historical background is a total pudding. The prose is terrible. And yet, the ideas have just enough suction, somehow, to present an undemanding reader with some nice frissons. I liked, for example, the way Diana tries to sublimate her magic powers in running and rowing and doing yoga – at a mixed vampire-witch-daemonic yoga class, participants struggle not to levitate during their vinyasas. And I liked the way Matthew and Diana smell to each other like Jo Malone candles: Diana is "horehound, frankincense, lady's mantle", Matthew is "cinnamon and clove".
 
"a thoroughly grown-up novel packed with gorgeous historical detail...Harkness writes with thrilling gusto about the magical world. Whether she's describing a yoga class for witches, daemons, and vampires or Diana's benignly haunted house, it's a treat to suspend disbelief. ... As the mysteries started to unravel, the pages turned faster, almost as if on their own. By the most satisfying end, Harkness had made me a believer.
 
"a romantic, erudite, and suspenseful first novel by Deborah Harkness. The first in a planned trilogy, it sets up blood drinkers and spell weavers as enemies for eternity in a feud as old as the Crusades; the duo confront social disapproval and intolerance as they elude evildoers and puzzle out enigmas throughout history. ...Harkness attends to every scholarly and emotional detail with whimsy, sensuality, and humor.
 
The protagonist is a witch. Her beau is a vampire. If you accept the argument that we’ve seen entirely too many of both kinds of characters in contemporary fiction, then you’re not alone. Yet, though Harkness seems to be arriving very late to a party that one hopes will soon break up, her debut novel has its merits; she writes well, for one thing, and, as a historian at the University of Southern California, she has a scholarly bent that plays out effectively here.
added by Shortride | editKirkus Reviews (Dec 15, 2010)
 

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Deborah Harknessprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bützow, HeleneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Belanger, FrancescaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goretsky, TalCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ikeda, JenniferNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
It begins with absence and desire.
It begins with blood and fear.
It begins with a discovery of witches.
Dedication
For Lexie and Jake, and their bright futures.
First words
The leather-bound volume was nothing remarkable.
Quotations
The King just sits there, moving one square at time. The queen can move so freely. I suppose I'd rather lose the game than forfeit her freedom.
´Normal`is a bedtime story - a fable - that humans tell themselves to feel better when faced with overwhelming evidence that most of what's happening around them is not ´normal`at all.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries - and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Haiku summary
Witches, vampires
And daemons all want to read
Book on alchemy.
(passion4reading)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0670022411, Hardcover)

Amazon Best of the Month, February 2011: It all begins with a lost manuscript, a reluctant witch, and 1,500-year-old vampire. Dr. Diana Bishop has a really good reason for refusing to do magic: she is a direct descendant of the first woman executed in the Salem Witch Trials, and her parents cautioned her be discreet about her talents before they were murdered, presumably for having "too much power." So it is purely by accident that Diana unlocks an enchanted long-lost manuscript (a book that all manner of supernatural creatures believe to hold the story of all origins and the secret of immortality) at the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and finds herself in a race to prevent an interspecies war. A sparkling debut written by a historian and self-proclaimed oenophile, A Discovery of Witches is heady mix of history and magic, mythology and love (cue the aforementioned vampire!), making for a luxurious, intoxicating, one-sitting read. --Daphne Durham

Ten More Books for Readers of A Discovery of Witches

Interested in learning more about magic and science?

I may have written a novel, but I’m still a history professor! Here are some reading suggestions for those of you whose curiosity has been stirred up by the story of Diana Bishop, Matthew Clairmont, and the hunt for the missing alchemical manuscript Ashmole 782. All of the titles here are non-fiction, and inspired some aspect of A Discovery of Witches.

Elias Ashmole, Theatrum Chemicum Brittanicum: Don’t be put off by the Latin title. This is a collection of English alchemical texts that were gathered by Elias Ashmole. The missing alchemical manuscript that Diana finds in the Bodleian library is not among them, alas, but if you are interested in the subject this is a fascinating glimpse into the mysterious texts that she studies as a historian.

Janet Browne, Darwin’s Origin of Species: Books That Changed the World: Browne is not only a great scholar, but a superb writer. A highly-regarded biographer of Darwin, here she turns her talents to writing a “biography” of his most famous book—and one of Matthew Clairmont’s favorites, as well.

Owen Davies, Grimoires: A History of Magic Books. If you are interested in the history of magic and witchcraft, Davies’ description of the development of magical spellbooks will provide insights into how ideas about magic, science, and nature developed over the centuries.

Carol Karlsen, The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England. Diana Bishop is descended from a long line of witches. You will find out more about some of those witches—the Bishops and the Proctors—while reading this classic interpretation of what happened in Salem in 1692.

Robert Kehew, Ezra Pound, and W. D. Snodgrass, Lark in the Morning: The Verses of the Troubadours. Matthew is a very old vampire, who has slightly old-fashioned views on love and romance. You might be surprised at the love poetry of his early life, and come away with a whole new appreciation for “old-fashioned.”

Bruce Moran’s Distilling Knowledge: Alchemy, Chemistry, and the Scientific Revolution. This marvelous book is not only deeply learned but extremely readable. Touched with Moran’s sense of humor and his compassion for his subject’s tireless efforts to understand the natural world, you will come away from this book with a new appreciation for the alchemists.

Alexander Roob, Alchemy and Mysticism. Diana Bishop is an expert on the enigmatic imagery that is used in alchemical texts. Many are included in Roob’s book, along with other illustrations from mystical and magical traditions.

Lyndal Roper, Witch Craze: Terror and Fantasy in Baroque Germany. This scholarly book was important to me as I wrote A Discovery of Witches because it helped me understand how the belief in witches influenced the imagination. Many of the notions we have about witchcraft today have their roots in these terrifying fantasies.

James Sharpe, Instruments of Darkness: Witchcraft in Early Modern England. Sharpe’s book is an ideal starting point if you are interested in the history of witchcraft beyond Salem or Germany. One of his most controversial arguments focuses on the role that women played as accusers—not just as victims—in the witchcraft trials.

Bryan Sykes, The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry. I was fascinated by the combination of history, genealogy, and science in Sykes’s work. The book provides an introduction to the study of genetics, and to the legacies that are carried from generation to generation among the population.

--Deborah Harkness

(Photo of Deborah Harkness © Marion Ettlinger)

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:56:18 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Witch and Yale historian Diana Bishop discovers an enchanted manuscript, attracting the attention of 1,500-year-old vampire Matthew Clairmont. The orphaned daughter of two powerful witches, Bishop prefers intellect, but relies on magic when her discovery of a palimpsest documenting the origin of supernatural species releases an assortment of undead who threaten, stalk, and harass her.… (more)

» see all 11 descriptions

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