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A Discovery of Witches: A Novel (All Souls…
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A Discovery of Witches: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy) (edition 2011)

by Deborah E. Harkness

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5,671512753 (3.77)325
Member:leedevtron
Title:A Discovery of Witches: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy)
Authors:Deborah E. Harkness
Info:Viking Adult (2011), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 592 pages
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A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

  1. 213
    Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (Anonymous user, SunnySD)
    Anonymous user: Both are epic fantasy novels...time travel, mystery, unlikely love interests.
  2. 202
    The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (clamairy)
    clamairy: Similar themes of magic and academia.
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    The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe (bnbookgirl)
  4. 10
    Labyrinth by Kate Mosse (DowntownLibrarian)
    DowntownLibrarian: If you enjoy learning some history along with your fantasy....
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    rlb0616: No witches or vampires, but it does have time travel. Also, there are many similarities between the two male leads.
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    Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell (SunnySD)
    SunnySD: Scholarly heroines, mysterious goings on, and much time spent in libraries...
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    City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte (thenothing)
    thenothing: alchemy, time travel, romance, mystery
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    The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (bookwyrmm)
  11. 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.
  12. 1318
    Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (happyhinsons)
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» See also 325 mentions

English (502)  Dutch (3)  Finnish (2)  Hungarian (2)  Spanish (1)  Piratical (1)  French (1)  All (512)
Showing 1-5 of 502 (next | show all)
I was quite enjoying this book - libraries, lost books, academia etc up until about half way and then suddenly I got really bored. The vampire trope has been worn out, the instalove, the supposedly mature academic behaving like a love lorn teenager. I skim read to the end and don't care what happens next. ( )
  infjsarah | May 13, 2017 |
If you like the Highlander series, you will probably like this. Sort of a mash up of Highlander and the Midnight series.
  Eye_Gee | May 8, 2017 |
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.
( )
  Aneris | Apr 22, 2017 |
You can definitely tell that this book was written by a historian - and an academic at that. Not only are there lots of bits of history in it, but the author's love of learning, of acquiring knowledge, shines through. Not simply because Protagonist 1 (Diana) is an academic, and a historian of science at that (just like the author!), but Protagonist 2 (Matthew) is a centuries-old vampire. Interestingly, the author doesn't chart his long life in terms of money, or power, or sex, but in terms of scholars known and books read and/or acquired. Similarly, Diana's reaction to old manuscripts is entirely believable.

Many people don't seem to like the amount of detail in this book - myself, I loved it. I loved the way Diana and Matthew discuss history, alchemy, genetics, the eating habits of wolves... It was a real treat to read two protagonists who are highly intelligent, very well-educated, and have an insatiable desire to learn.

The plot - well, there are two. The love story between Diana and Matthew, and whatever is going on with Ashmole 782. The first got rather more advancement than the second - I expect Books 2 and 3 will have more about the mysterious manuscript. If you are looking for a fast-paced plot with lots of excitement, this book is not for you. This is a slow-burn sort of book, and I expect the story will play out with a lot of finding of information, and putting together of puzzles, rather than explosions and car chases.

Urban fantasy done with academics.

I love it. :-) ( )
  T_K_Elliott | Mar 12, 2017 |


The only vampire books I’ve really read have been Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice. I enjoyed the classic evil vampire and endured the nostalgic melancholy vampire, but the vampire fantasy genre really didn’t do much for me. I haven’t read Twilight, but I’ve read/heard/seen enough people talking about it to know that it isn’t a book for me. But I must confess: I saw the first two movies of the Twilight series. Spurred on mostly by my own curiosity, I sat through the two movies contemplating what was on the screen in front of me: obsessive behaviour, manipulation, and teenage angst just to name a few. I felt like the movies – I can only assume about the books – were sending some not so awesome ideas about love and life.

When a friend suggested A Discovery of Witches to me I was skeptical at best, because with reviews from The Sunday Times like: “Intelligent and off-the-wall, it will be irresistible to Twilight fans” I wasn’t convinced I was going to be excited by the book. I resisted though, bought the book, and began to read.

One of the universal themes of the book is forbidden love. It’s very much Romeo and Juliet with the two main characters coming from different families, different breeds of human, and above all there is an ancient rule that says vampires, witches, and demons aren’t allowed to love outside of their own kind. The witch, Diana, and a wait for it… Tall dark and handsome vampire, Matthew meet at a library in England where their lives change forever. The book had the potential to be sappy and lame with a main female character who was weak and very much damsel-in-distress, but Deborah Harkness managed to do something different. Thank god!

Diana and Matthew meet in a library, they are both academic researchers and what brings them together is a special book: Ashmole 782. The book is under a powerful spell and it holds the history and truth about the origins and evolution of vampires, witches, and demons (Demons, by the way, are eccentric, intelligent, and funny. Not like Satan and hell fire). Diana, who has denied her witch heritage for most of her life manages to call the book from the library and break the spell and open the book. She disregards the magical power she feels when she opens the book, returns it to the library, and without knowing reactivates the spell that kept the book hidden. This starts a change reaction of events that leads to Matthew meeting Diana and falling in love with her, and a whole bunch of really crazy witches, vampires, and demons on a witch and vampire hunt to find out the secrets of Ashmole 782 and to prevent Diana and Matthew from having their happily ever after.

Diana is a character you can relate to and understand. At the beginning of the book she deals with a lot of self-denial and confidence issues in relation to her magic and her families witch heritage, but it doesn’t hold her back. She’s not perfect, but she is self-enabling, and in the end realises what she needs to do to be the best she can be. Her life changes when she stops denying who she is, which I can say with 100% certainty is the case for everyone, not just for fictional witches.

Harkness on Diana: “Diana’s character comes from a combination of qualities I admire in others.” (A Discovery of Witches, “The Inspiration for A Discovery of Witches and the All Souls trilogy: A conversation with Deborah Harkness).

Matthew is a vampire. While Diana has human qualities even though she is a witch, Matthew’s character is more closely related to an animal. Harkness describes him as protective, verging on possessive in the book. He has a pack mentality and looks after his family first. He is often compared to a wolf; territorial and strong. He is intelligent with a love of science and is quick-tempered. Now, a lot of those character traits aren’t very desirable, and although Diana has a strange fascination with him, she calls him out when he is being manipulative or secretive. In the end they slowly learn to adjust to each other.

Now, even if you don’t enjoy vampire-witch love sagas there are some really great history lessons in this book. Deborah Harkness is a professor of history at the University of Southern California. She has written a few academic books and like her main character Diana, she is a historian of science and alchemy.

Despite the mostly great writing there was one thing in the book that made my eyes roll 360 degrees in my head and it was when Diana and Matthew get intimate. Phrases like “my legs opened like book” made me scoff loudly and I skipped over the scene. I find sex scenes in books weird and uncomfortable, especially when it’s written in first-person. I wouldn’t have conversations with that much detail with a close friend of mine, so reading them from a character in a book who you essentially befriend for the time you’re reading just seems weird and awkward.

The book ends on a pretty big cliff-hanger where Matthew and Diana are about to time-walk (go back in time) so they can find a witch strong enough to help Diana uncover her true magical potential. They also want to get away from the witches and vampires that are hunting them for Ashmole 782. Due to the ridiculousness of the cliff-hanger, I instantly went to get the second book, Shadow of Night which was released not that long ago. ( )
  bound2books | Feb 12, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 502 (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 (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Harkness, Deborahprimary 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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:41 -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)

(summary from another edition)

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