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

Deborah Harkness
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3,150 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $17.00
Kindle Price: $6.99
You Save: $10.01 (59%)
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.

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: 1663 KB
  • Print Length: 594 pages
  • 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: #161 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
446 of 504 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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813 of 926 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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369 of 439 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Beware the Hype! March 6, 2011
I downloaded the first chapter as a sample and - after reading just a few pages - bought the book and moved it to the top of my reading list.

What a disappointment. Harkness has certain charm that occasionally shines through in her writing, but the story is a mess. Villains appear and lurk in the shadows. The heroine goes rowing. Twice. She goes to yoga a couple times, too. The villains multiply. The heroine goes horseback riding. Three times. Then she learns to make an herbal tea.

Oh, and she falls in love. With a vampire, of course. Annoying "mon amore!" crying love. Eyerolling, "Will you ever stop surprising me, mon coeur?" kind of love.

Then the heroine discovers her powers. Naturally, she is the most gifted witch in generations. Here is a partial list of her powers (so far): flight, precognition, talking to ghosts, control of water, telekenesis, control of witchfire (you can't put it out, or heal its burns), and teleportation. Did I mention time travel? Time travel. So she's pretty tough, right? ...No. She does kill one vampire after it wounds her lover, but mainly she wanders around in a kind of daze, remarkably unconcerned by the strange and violent turn her life has taken.

Anyway, I stuck with it to the end, only to find that I could have put it down at ABSOLUTELY ANY POINT and had as much closure as the "ending" provided.

Other reviewers have compared this to Anne Rice. Anne isn't my favorite writer either, but she should be offended by the comparison.

One last note: I'm kind of appalled by the number of reviewers that think this book is smart, or "brainy." It's partially set in a university and it has some scientific words. Like... mitochondria. Whoa! Heady stuff! Not.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally addictive and a must read
I could not put the novel down. I relished every aspect of and I am truly looking forward to the next two books.
Published 51 minutes ago by claire
1.0 out of 5 stars A Discovery of Drivel
If you're into bloated, overwritten trash- you've come to the right place. Harkness' scholarly understanding of history is impressive, but her hackneyed prose and shallow,... Read more
Published 3 hours ago by Kevin T. Conroy
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic!
My sister in law told me she thought I would enjoy this book. I could not put it down! I am starting book two right now!
Published 8 hours ago by Lisa Malmstadt
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralled
Picked this up in an airport on a whim while traveling internationally a few years ago, and I literally could not put the book down. Read it twice! Read more
Published 9 hours ago by Kelly Shannon
3.0 out of 5 stars Harkness is an excellent word-smith, one of the best
Harkness is an excellent word-smith, one of the best. but just too much romance novel. "SUNSHINE" by Robin McKinley, uses the magical girl, meets vampire theme, and is... Read more
Published 18 hours ago by brady stallings
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Suspense and love keep these pages turning. Witches, vamps and daemons. Oh my!
Published 1 day ago by Denise Morgan
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books EVER
Deborah Harkness has left me wanting so much more of her writing since the first time I read this book. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Brad Haslem
5.0 out of 5 stars love story and magical happenings make these books excellent reading
I have read the first and 2nd books in this trilogy - currently reading the 3rd. The historical references, love story and magical happenings make these books excellent reading.
Published 1 day ago by JSeggerman
5.0 out of 5 stars It's like an adult version of Harry Potter with witches
I couldn't put this book down. When I read the description I thought it sounded a bit juvenile but as soon as I read the sample I purchased the book. Read more
Published 1 day ago by JP
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better the second time!
I borrowed this book from a friend when it originally came out and loved it. I had to buy my own copy so that I could read it again before moving on to each of the sequels . Read more
Published 1 day ago by Jennifer Helseth
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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 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 Sandra Melanson |  See all 2 posts
kindle Be the first to reply
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