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A Discovery of Witches: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy, Book 1) Kindle Edition

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Length: 594 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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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.)
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Product Details

  • File Size: 2612 KB
  • Print Length: 594 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (February 8, 2011)
  • Publication Date: February 8, 2011
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004DI7HZ6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,914 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

585 of 653 people found the following review helpful By Vanessa on February 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
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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602 of 674 people found the following review helpful By HistoryGrad on November 17, 2013
Format: Paperback
I've been trying to read "A Discovery of Witches" -- it looked fun and had come highly recommended by someone I thought I trusted -- but here's a paraphrased, conglomerated conversation between the main character, Diana, and her love interest:

"Oh, Matthew de Clairmont! You must remember that I'm an independent and strong 35-year-old, tenured, Oxford professor! I don't need your help just because you are a thousand-year-old vampire who looks like a 30-something and smells of spices and has long elegant fingers and a chiseled jaw and broad shoulders and mesmerizing eyes and such masculine energy and impeccable taste in wine and cheese and mushrooms and ...... *swoons*....oh, all that MONEY!"

"I know, Diana, my love, my goddess. You are the strongest witch I've ever known! You row and run every day and your body is just...SCHUH-WING! You are so much stronger than I am! I tried so hard not to love you, but I am drawn to your power and your light! NO! Wait! I mustn't! I am so dark...! I can't bear the thought of accidentally attacking you."

"Oh Matthew, you know I will love you no matter what. I know I can handle your wild beastliness!"

"No, Diana, I am telling you I could kill you if I lose control! I am so broooooody and daaaaaark!"

"Oh, you silly! I know you love me! We've known each other almost 3 weeks now and I just KNOW you could never, ever give me the hurtsies and booboos! And will you please show me how to use my magic that I have always known was there but just couldn't awaken without you? *simper* NO! No, WAIT! I don't WANT to be a witch! I've always known I have such power and I'm the most special witch that ever was, but I'm just too afraid to use my vast powers!
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855 of 978 people found the following review helpful By Viviane Crystal VINE VOICE on February 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
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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some of these kindle versions are as expensive as hardcovers...
WOW! A Discovery of Witches - FIRST time I have seen the Kindle price HIGHER than the Amazon hardcover price. $14.99! For a book I can't pass on to someone else when I'm done.

I read the review and came online ready to order. Sorry Penguin - you are going to send me back to the library with your...
Feb 6, 2011 by Avid Reader |  See all 47 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 Amazon Customer |  See all 2 posts
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