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A Discovery of Witches

by Deborah Harkness

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: All Souls (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,456649722 (3.77)414
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)
  1. 235
    Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (Anonymous user, SunnySD)
    Anonymous user: Both are epic fantasy novels...time travel, mystery, unlikely love interests.
  2. 203
    The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (clamairy)
    clamairy: Similar themes of magic and academia.
  3. 151
    The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe (bnbookgirl)
  4. 20
    Labyrinth by Kate Mosse (DowntownLibrarian)
    DowntownLibrarian: If you enjoy learning some history along with your fantasy....
  5. 21
    City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte (thenothing)
    thenothing: alchemy, time travel, romance, mystery
  6. 10
    The String Diaries by Stephen Lloyd Jones (debbiereads)
  7. 10
    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.
  8. 21
    Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell (SunnySD)
    SunnySD: Scholarly heroines, mysterious goings on, and much time spent in libraries...
  9. 10
    The Immortal City by Amy Kuivalainen (Dariah)
  10. 10
    The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman (tralliott)
  11. 11
    A Hidden Fire by Elizabeth Hunter (Friederike.Geissler)
  12. 79
    Northern Lights by Philip Pullman (bookwyrmm)
  13. 1519
    Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (happyhinsons)
  14. 05
    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.
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» See also 414 mentions

English (638)  Dutch (3)  Hungarian (2)  Finnish (2)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  Piratical (1)  All languages (648)
Showing 1-5 of 638 (next | show all)
I really wanted to like this book. Couldn’t finish it. I never started liking the main characters. I got about 75% of the way through, and figured if I didn’t like it by then, I wasn’t going to. ( )
  rchall78 | Jun 13, 2021 |
Diana Bishop is a witch. She doesn't want to be though, so she is fighting it with all she has. Still there is something about Diana that makes it impossible for her to stay off the radar of the other creatures out there. She comes across a manuscript that has been lost for centuries and suddenly everyone is trying to get her, to get to the book. Diana thinks the book is just a text on alchemy but the rest of the creature world is sure it is more.
Enter Matthew Clairmount, vampire, scientist and self appointed protector of Diana.
Should she trust him? Maybe not. Can she walk away from him? Absolutely not.
Together, along with those they pick up on the way, they will take a path that may change the world.
( )
  amoderndaybelle | May 27, 2021 |
I read 50% of the book... I just couldn't keep on reading this. The heroine is an Oxford academic who rows boats and rides horses... She is just too posh, I just kept on associating her with the UK upper class, and it was too much for my socialist heart. Especially now that the UK is going through such a difficult time (and I live in London). No, I feel zero empathy, this book was just getting on my nerves. ( )
  Clarissa_ | May 11, 2021 |
Harkness, Deborah. A Discovery of Witches. All Souls No. 1. Viking, 2011.
A Discovery of Witches, a debut novel by historian Deborah Harkness, has been a long-term bestseller. It is easy to see why. Its heroine, Diana Bishop, a witch trying to lead a normal life as a historian of alchemy without using her magic, checks out the wrong book from Oxford’s Bodleian Library and finds herself under surveillance by a gaggle of witches, demons, and vampires—especially one handsome vampire named Matthew. A romance between them breaks every rule of the occult world. It is therefore inevitable. The world-building detail is excellent, as is the suspenseful plot and the erotic tension between Matthew and Diana. I especially like the opening scene of the novel in which we discover that most of the weary graduate students and academic researchers are all undercover demons, vampires, and witches. As a former graduate student, I can well believe it. The novel does have some typical first novel flaws. For example, the point of view for most of the novel puts us in Diana’s head and establishes Matthew as dangerous and mysterious. But then, for one chapter, the perspective switches to an angst-ridden Matthew, tells us too much too soon about him, and distracts us from Diana. I understand it has been made into a TV series that is unfortunately on a streaming service I don't receive. Four stars. ( )
  Tom-e | Apr 27, 2021 |
The main characters were horrendous, and it took way too long for this book to get started. I'm intrigued by the side characters, but completely put off by the structure of this world and the weird choices re species and creatures. ( )
  CassandraNicole | Apr 22, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 638 (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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Wikipedia in English (2)

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.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Discovering a magical manuscript in Oxford's library, scholar Diana Bishop, a descendant of witches who has rejected her heritage, inadvertently unleashes a fantastical underworld of daemons, witches and vampires whose activities center around an enchanted treasure." - NoveList Plus
Haiku summary
Witches, vampires
and daemons all want to read
book on alchemy.
(passion4reading)

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Deborah Harkness is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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