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A Discovery of Witches: A Novel (All Souls…

A Discovery of Witches: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy, Book 1) (edition 2011)

by Deborah Harkness (Author)

Series: All Souls (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9,847682628 (3.77)436
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)
Title:A Discovery of Witches: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy, Book 1)
Authors:Deborah Harkness (Author)
Info:Penguin Books (2011), Edition: Reprint, 594 pages
Collections:Your library

Work Information

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

  1. 235
    Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (Anonymous user, SunnySD)
    Anonymous user: Both are epic fantasy novels...time travel, mystery, unlikely love interests.
  2. 204
    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. 31
    Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell (SunnySD)
    SunnySD: Scholarly heroines, mysterious goings on, and much time spent in libraries...
  6. 10
    The String Diaries by Stephen Lloyd Jones (debbiereads)
  7. 10
    The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman (tralliott)
  8. 10
    The Immortal City by Amy Kuivalainen (Dariah)
  9. 21
    City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte (thenothing)
    thenothing: alchemy, time travel, romance, mystery
  10. 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.
  11. 00
    This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar (lottpoet)
    lottpoet: intense fantastical love story
  12. 11
    A Hidden Fire (Elemental Mysteries, #1) by Elizabeth Hunter (Friederike.Geissler)
  13. 01
    Sunshine by Robin McKinley (lottpoet)
    lottpoet: magic users, demons and vampires aren't supposed to mix; an intense magic user-vampire relationship under extreme pressure
  14. 79
    The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (bookwyrmm)
  15. 1519
    Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (happyhinsons)
  16. 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 436 mentions

English (667)  Dutch (3)  Hungarian (2)  Finnish (2)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  Piratical (1)  All languages (677)
Showing 1-5 of 667 (next | show all)
This book had me looking up the history of Oxfords libraries and them researching graduate programs so I could study there. Loved the world Harkless has built. Loved the characters and pacing. ( )
  SofiaKlatzker | Sep 30, 2022 |
3.5 stars
I did enjoy the book, however it was a bit slow and tedious at times. ( )
  liltastypuff | Sep 12, 2022 |
I got 200 pages in, and then it got needlessly rapey. What is it with sci fi and fantasy novels that makes it okay to write out consent if your characters aren't strictly human. Quit immediately at the second instance. ( )
  emmy_of_spines | Sep 8, 2022 |
Wow! Loved this book. Slow buildup to an amazing story. Can't wait to read Book 2 in the All Souls Trilogy. ( )
  DebCushman | Aug 25, 2022 |
This book is Twilight for people who think they're too smart for Twilight. "Oh, come on," you might say, "comparing a vampire guy/non-vampire girl romance to Twilight is a really lazy way to trash it, and you're probably being overly dismissive," but it honestly hits an alarming number of the same plot points, from "vampire guy breaks into heroine's room to watch her sleep at night" to "vampire guy has a female vampire relative who hates the heroine, which turns out to be because she's just jealous the heroine can have babies and she can't" to "vampires ordinarily can't have biological children, but the vampire guy and the heroine can," and I'll eat my hat if the resulting child/children aren't Renesmee-level Super Special and Amazing, too. This book just spackles on a shallow layer of academia, which as far as I'm concerned makes it more insufferable, because at least Twilight had no pretensions. This book wants you to think it's Smart and Deep and not just a shameless fantasy about being a relatable yet also super special woman with a hot vampire boyfriend who is also in charge of your life, because of course he knows better than you what you need. Which, if that's your thing, far be it from me to judge, I just feel like this book didn't own it, you know?

To nitpick further, while the prose was generally readable, there were some really clunky attempts at descriptive language, and while I'm not dead against the use of epithets (i.e. referring to someone as "the vampire" or "the historian" or whatever instead of by a pronoun or their name) in third person, in first person it's distracting. I highly doubt anyone thinks about people whose names they know that way.

I will say I was kind of fond of Sarah and Em, because being someone's eccentric, vaguely hippie-ish, cat-owning lesbian aunt is my life goal, but for most of the book their sole purpose is to call the heroine up and nag her about how worried they are about whatever she's doing (such as, you know, dating a vampire), so that she can be annoyed because she's TOTALLY FINE, YOU GUYS, GOD. So as redeeming features go, it wasn't much. ( )
  xenoglossy | Aug 17, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 667 (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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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.
First words
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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(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.

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

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Average: (3.77)
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1 132
1.5 16
2 232
2.5 36
3 515
3.5 151
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4.5 99
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