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A Discovery of Witches: A Novel (All Souls…

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

by Deborah E. Harkness

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4,1583871,205 (3.77)287
Title:A Discovery of Witches: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy)
Authors:Deborah E. Harkness
Info:Viking Adult (2011), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 592 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

  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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English (377)  Dutch (3)  Finnish (2)  Hungarian (2)  Spanish (1)  Piratical (1)  French (1)  All languages (387)
Showing 1-5 of 377 (next | show all)
Excellent book. I did feel that DIana, lost her identity when she had to back home and when the whole bit with the secret document started. It was a little heavy on the princess and knight sort of thing (except it was a witch and a vampire in love). ( )
  lhaines56 | Oct 8, 2014 |
Second read-through of the book. *Disclaimer: I like my book relationships to be very different from my real-life marriage. If my husband tried controlling me like Matthew does with Diana, I'd punch him in the face, then walk away. But since it's a fantasy, I'll allow it.

This book has a lot going on. Vampires, witches, magical manuscripts, time-travel, haunted houses, and daemons. Not my usual fare, to be sure. I rarely, if ever, read paranormal romance. But I love historical fiction and I like the way Harkness weaves in historical facts to her story about Matthew and Diana. Diana is a scholar who stumbles upon an enchanted manuscript during her research. She's also a very reluctant witch, daughter of two very powerful witches, who avoids using her powers at all costs. Matthew is a brooding millionaire vampire scientist, who spends his time researching blood and DNA with his vampire assistants in his lab. He also does yoga and has a castle. In France. With horses and a library. Hey, if he offered me a free trip to his castle, I might let him boss me around for a while, too. As long as I got time to read by the fire and ride his horses. But I digress.

Diana unknowingly triggers many magical creatures when she has the manuscript called from the stacks. She's in danger and Matthew's hero complex goes into complete overdrive to protect her. And possibly eat her, because she smells good. But not right now. He's a good vampire! Very self-controlled. While I rate it a solid three stars, what kept it from being rated higher was Diana. She desperately needs to grow some confidence. She's supposed to be an intelligent, Yale-educated woman at Oxford, for crying out loud. Make good choices and stand on your own two feet! She's my biggest nitpick with the story. It's a little like Twilight for adults, but not in a bad way. It's smarter and more complex. I liked it, flaws and all. ( )
  GovMarley | Oct 7, 2014 |
I was expecting there to be witches based on the title. Vampires and daemons? Not so much.

This book got off to a great start, and it was, in the long run, an interesting read. At almost 600 pages (hardback copy), the very long run.

Diana, the first-person protagonist, has spent her scholarly life researching the history of alchemy and denying her very witchy-ness. Uh-oh, that ain't gonna work. And a vampire, among other non-human creatures, is stalking her. Can you see trouble coming?

This would have been a very entertaining book if it had been shorter, but it was too long for the story it had to tell, and in the end, it left me hanging – gotta read the next book of this trilogy. Will I? I haven't decided yet.

I loved the glimpses of history, the various periods of time the story covered. The writing was engaging, not florid, just solid, good writing. It dragged a bit in places for me, especially with DNA results, but that is not a subject that especially interests me even if it should.

Of course, the story was fantastical, but anyone reading about such creatures as these has to have a certain ability to suspend disbelief. When I'm reading the book, sure, I can buy into the whole witch/vampire/daemon thing.

If witches and other worldly beings are your forte, this book has great entertainment value. You certainly get your money's worth of words. ( )
  TooBusyReading | Sep 30, 2014 |
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness starts out in a library! The main character drinks copious amounts of tea, does yoga, is an historian, and seems to have agency! There are not only witches, but vampires, too! Oh, this book seemed so perfect for me for the first 13 chapters…and then it began a slow decline towards horribleness. It wasn’t until chapter 29 that it quickly went back to being the good book I was reading when I started it. What made approximately half of the book so close to unbearable that I almost quit reading?

First off, the wine and food descriptions get to the point of being snobbish and over the top ridiculous. One of the wines the main characters drink “smelled like lemon floor polish and smoke and tasted like chalk and butterscotch.” I don’t know about you, but there’s no way I would consider tasting something that smells like floor polish, and if I somehow lost my mind and craved the taste of a cleaning product, I really don’t see myself as enjoying the taste of chalk, even when combined with butterscotch. Another bad choice of words is the line “…she said in a husky voice of sand and treacle”. There comes a point when you’re trying so hard to be original in your descriptions that you should stick to the tried and true. However, she goes in the opposite direction of original description by repeatedly using the words “ice and snow(flakes)” when referring to being looked at by a vampire. After the third or fourth time she mentions this feeling, I wanted to scream “I GET IT ALREADY!”

Secondly, she makes a thinly veiled reference to Anne Rice’s Lestat character that feels too much like an “oh look at me, aren’t I clever and knowledgeable about popular vampire fiction”. On top of that, most of the plot seems like a ripoff of Twilight, to include Diana becoming a character with no agency that is seemingly helpless, naive, and oblivious. I get the impression that the author loved Twilight so much that she rewrote it with her as the main character, living out her ultimate fantasy. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that…as long as you do it well. There are no original stories; that goes double for vampire fiction, and triple for vampire romances. Which brings me to my third problem with this book…

At one time in my life, I would’ve found the vampire, Matthew, being the alpha of his “pack” irresistibly sexy. Now, I find it’s an excuse to act like a controlling and domineering

creep. He treats Diana as if she’s not capable of making her own decisions, and comes across as a parental figure, with Diana being “Daddy’s little princess”. What’s worse is Matthew’s description and actions are explicitly related to wolf behavior. Please, for the love of the written word, SHOW, don’t TELL! The author also led me to believe she thinks her audience is just as stupid as Diana by frequently pointing out the obvious.

Last, but not least, the grammatically borked line “Was it humans?” At first, I felt judgmental, but then I read the line to my boyfriend to gauge his reaction. I concluded that I would be humiliated if these words left my mouth in normal conversation, and it’s completely unbelievable that an academic like Diana would talk like a 3rd grader.

I have other problems with this book, but they include spoilers. Despite half the book being despicable, the other half, especially the ending, makes me want to read the next book. So, on the off chance that you might want to do the same, I won’t write about those parts that give away specific plot details. All said and done, I think it’s a book worth reading, if you’re very forgiving of its faults, but not worth buying. Borrow it from someone who already made the mistake of paying for it, or check it out from the library. ( )
  ReadingWench | Sep 19, 2014 |
This epic romance combines magic, 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 an odd, enchanted 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 as they follow clues to the puzzle 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 cipher, and survive those hunting Diana, while their intense yet taboo romance sizzles. The All Souls Trilogy continues with Shadow of Night, where the time-travel takes off. ( )
  ktoonen | Sep 9, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 377 (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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It begins with absence and desire.
It begins with blood and fear.
It begins with a discovery of witches.
For Lexie and Jake, and their bright futures.
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The leather-bound volume was nothing remarkable.
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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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.

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)

(summary from another edition)

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