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A Discovery of Witches: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy) [Kindle Edition]

Deborah Harkness
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,869 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $8.62
You Save: $7.38 (46%)
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

Book one of the New York Times–bestselling All Souls trilogy—"a wonderfully imaginative grown-up fantasy with all the magic of Harry Potter and Twilight” (People)

Deborah Harkness’s sparkling debut, A Discovery of Witches, has brought her into the spotlight and galvanized fans around the world. In this tale of passion and obsession, Diana Bishop, a young scholar and a descendant of witches, discovers a long-lost and enchanted alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, deep in Oxford's Bodleian Library. Its reappearance summons a fantastical underworld, which she navigates with her leading man, vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont.

Harkness has created a universe to rival those of Anne Rice, Diana Gabaldon, and Elizabeth Kostova, and she adds a scholar's depth to this riveting tale of magic and suspense. The story continues in book two, Shadow of Night, and concludes with The Book of Life, coming from Viking in July 2014.

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Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best Books 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

From Publishers Weekly

In Harkness's lively debut, witches, vampires, and demons outnumber humans at Oxford's Bodleian Library, where 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. Against all occult social propriety, Bishop turns for protection to tall, dark, bloodsucking man-about-town Clairmont. Their research raises questions of evolution and extinction among the living dead, and their romance awakens centuries-old enmities. Harkness imagines a crowded universe where normal and paranormal creatures observe a tenuous peace. "Magic is desire made real," Bishop says after both her desire and magical prowess exceed her expectations. Harkness brings this world to vibrant life and makes the most of the growing popularity of gothic adventure with an ending that keeps the Old Lodge door wide open. (Feb.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1085 KB
  • Print Length: 594 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0670022411
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 592 edition (February 8, 2011)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004DI7HZ6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,905 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
404 of 458 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed bag of contrived and clever February 25, 2011
By Vanessa
In A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES Harknes takes all the urban fantasy romantic tropes and...uses them. Main PoV character Diana is smart, orphaned, stubborn, beautiful-though-she-doesn't-know-it, and a powerful witch. Her vampire love interest Matthew is almost perfectly thoughtful, impeccably dressed, brilliant, rich, and well connected. The antagonists resent their blossoming romance because vampires and witches 'just don't mix' (Really! It's never happened before!). There's the trendy locales (Oxford, France, upstate New York), the wine/books/artifacts only a centuries old vampire could have, the tension between the supernatural races. If you've read your share of urban fantasy, you've seen all this many times over.

The issue isn't that Harkness uses these tropes over again--they are tried and true for a reason--it's that it's her first novel and you can tell. Her foreshadowing lacks subtlety. Last-minute contrivances fix issues. Too much time is spent on the minutiae of eating/traveling/clothing. Expository conversations are used to forward the plot. And the plot itself is bogged down with irrelevant information. You know, the kinds of things any writer's workshop would explain are problems because they affect flow and readability.

But do these problems ruin the story?

For most urban fantasy readers, those are issues that won't impede their enjoyment of the love story. However, while I enjoyed Harkness' blending of ideas and the magic, even if they aren't exactly groundbreaking, the execution made it hard for me to enjoy it on a level that would make me give an unhesitating endorsement.

The story starts off with a problem: why does everyone want Ashmole 782? Diana is a Ph.D.
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800 of 913 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Monumental Collision of Magic, History and Science February 8, 2011
This is not your ordinary story about witches, vampires and daemons!

Diana Bishop's famous ancestor was executed for being a witch. As a heart-rending consequence of Diana's parents' mysterious deaths, Diana has vowed she will live totally as a human, denying her identity as a witch with both usual and unusual powers. Dedicating her life to logic and ordinary living, she is now a history scholar doing research on alchemy texts in the Bodleian library at Oxford. Upon receiving a requested text called Ashmole 782, she realizes either the book is spellbound or there is something about this book that connects with her hidden witch powers. Add to that the reactions of suddenly appearing witches, vampires, and daemons whose animosity and threatening looks and words make Diana's wish for normalcy an illusion she can no longer ignore.

Into the midst of this reality arrives a handsome, extremely intelligent and old vampire, Matthew Clairmont, who is supposedly pursuing his own research as a geneticist. Initially disliking and avoiding his presence, Diana finally begins to realize he is protecting her from direct attack by the hordes of persons appearing daily in the library who are insisting she recall the text they are desperate to obtain. Then he begins to appear during her running and rowing exercises which seem to be the only way she can stop her natural abilities from emerging with perilous effects on herself as well as others.

Why is Matthew so attracted to Diana and what is behind the interest so many have in this mysterious text lost for centuries which has appeared and again disappeared after Diana's innocent unbinding of its pages?
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353 of 419 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Supernatural for Smarties February 8, 2011
Have you ever really (you know what I mean by really, not a peck) been kissed or touched by a person just in out of the freezing cold? It's not very pleasant. I never understood the romantic attraction to frigid vampires until now. Harkness, with her own authorial magic, made me believe that if I were a hot-blooded witch, the coolness of the undead's touch would feel welcome. Here there is more than the standard vampire romance based on the primal attraction of predator/prey. Harkness's witch Diana is a worthy partner for powerful vampire Matthew Clairmont.

I just adored this novel. It has everything you want in a good read: terrific characters; a fast-moving plot filled with the world of academia, science, and the supernatural; and a singular world to explore. There are lots of details for the reader who wants even more, like hidden "Easter egg" references to other novels/characters; lots of descriptions of wine and tea and food that made me seriously hungry; and equally well-developed secondary characters.

The only trouble is, when you reach the end you will throw the book across the room and yell because the sequel is not already in your hot little hands. So then you'll be forced to read it again.
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344 of 410 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Yawwwwwwn! April 17, 2011
A Discover of Witches is freakin massive! It weighs in at around 250,000 words and nearly 6 hundred pages. That is an enormous amount of story to create.
I'm sorry but while Debora Harkness's debut fiction story starts off well and is quite beautifully written, the plot is very, very thin and quite boring. The love story plot thread is boring and stale. I seriously couldnt give a flying F about Matthew and Diana, I found their relationship frankly ridiculous.

Diana is in her mid thirties (THIRTIES!) and she behaves around Matthew just like a self involved TSTL teenager. Actually I got really strong Bella vibes with Diana. This woman starts out intelligent and strong, she is working in the Bodelein library in Oxford when she happens to call an ancient alchemical text that is thought by 'creatures' around the world to be extict. Diana hates magic, she thinks it resulted in the death of her parents and flat refuses to use it or acknowledge her witchy status. That is until Matthew comes on the scene and tells her to start learning how to use her seemingly boundless powers. I really don't buy that Diana has practically every witch power under the sun, she just doesnt know it. *Rolls eyes*

Matthew (a fifteen hundred year old vampire) falls instantly for Diana, even though inter-creature relations are forbidden, not really getting why that is, but it creates romantic tension so I roll with it. The thing is, Matthew treats Diana like an precious pet. AND SHE LETS HIM. By the end of the book he is telling her when to eat and sleep and go for a walk, just like some small child. He carries her everywhere (think Paris Hilton with her chihuahuas) and makes all her decisions for her. It is so annoying watching Diana become more and more pet-like. I mean grow a backbone already.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it.
Family member recommended it and it consumed my life for 2 1/2 days. I am convinced I am a witch and just spellbound.
Published 5 hours ago by Kristin
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
A great paranormal book! I could not put this book down. I will be eagerly reading the whole trilogy. This series reminds me of the Twilight series.
Published 10 hours ago by Linda DiMercurio
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting take on lore
It was definitely and interesting take on vampire, witches, and the like. I enjoyed how it was more based on Wicca than let's say, Harry Potter.
Published 1 day ago by jennifer rothstein
2.0 out of 5 stars More Like a Romance Than a Fantasy Novel
I read this book because a co-worker recommended it highly (extremely highly). She said she is obsessed with this series. I found it a difficult read, however. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Kindle Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Like a lot
Very good... captivating... makes me wish I was a witch... LOL
Just starting Book 2, will rate later..
Hope you enjoy.
Published 1 day ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars Good concept, could use some major substantive editing.
The concept of the story caught my interest. As a historian, I liked the play on history and evolution. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Love2write123
1.0 out of 5 stars You can nap with the audio book and not miss anything! I tried it!
I had my doubts about this book when I bought it but figured I'd give it a shot since I needed something to listen to as I pack for a move. Read more
Published 2 days ago by maia160
5.0 out of 5 stars Page Turner
I loved this book so much. It was a mix between Harry Potter, Twilight (with a much smarter main character) and the Sookie Stackhouse novels. I couldn't put it down.
Published 3 days ago by Heather Lemke
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun Read
I don't usually like the paranormal stuff, but I could not put this book down. I'm already into the next one and can't wait for July.
Published 3 days ago by rachelle brown
5.0 out of 5 stars Great mix of fiction and history
Keeps your interest throughout. Not your typical formulaic boy meets girl read. References to history well woven into story. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Katie C
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More About the Author

Deborah Harkness is a professor of history at the University of Southern California. She has received Fullbright, Guggenheim, and National Humanities Center fellowships, and her most recent scholarly work is The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution. She also writes an award-winning wine blog.

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some of these kindle versions are as expensive as hardcovers...
It was indeed one of the selling points two years ago. Then Apple opened the iBook store and Amazon no longer had the monopoly and could no longer set the prices with all the publishers. So that's why I encourage other Kindle owners to simply NOT buy any book priced higher than $12.00

The... Read more
Feb 4, 2011 by Kate |  See all 46 posts
shame on them
Just checked- the price of this book on nook is the same.
May 5, 2011 by C. J. Wolf |  See all 16 posts
Kindle Daily Deal on June 10...
Don't know how I hit it on the right day, but glad I did. I enjoyed the book and am looking forward to #2, but I would not have paid the high price either.
Jun 25, 2012 by Sandra Melanson |  See all 2 posts
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