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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 (3,564 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: #563 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
493 of 552 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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823 of 937 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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447 of 528 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
1.0 out of 5 stars just read this instead
the Cliff Notes version: went to the library (a lot). Rejected something significant, with the knowledge that it was significant (a lot). Read more
Published 4 hours ago by Amanda Sledz
5.0 out of 5 stars Great first book in the Trilogy
Best read. On second book, can't wait to start last in trilogy but then there will be no more intrigues to look forward to!
Published 4 hours ago by Veronica McMahon
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
I loved it and can't wait to start on the next one. Amazing characters. Terrific plot and storyline. Love Matthew
Published 6 hours ago by amanda wishart
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I like how Ms. Harkness blended story telling with the History, Religion and Science. Very addicting to read.
Published 8 hours ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars I was interested in this book from the beginning. ...
I was interested in this book from the beginning. It seems a little over written however, it is well worth it.
Published 9 hours ago by Traci
5.0 out of 5 stars So well written. I love the science being tied in with the magical...
This is the start of a fabulous literary journey.
Published 10 hours ago by laurar
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book, just bought the second in the series
Published 11 hours ago by James Aguirre
3.0 out of 5 stars Moves a little slow. I haven't finished it. ...
Moves a little slow. I haven't finished it. I have been drawn to three other books instead.
Published 13 hours ago by ChilenotChili
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
I loved it! I do not read much, but this really kept my attention and story is really interesting. I would recommend this to anyone.
Published 13 hours ago by c. hillmann
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Never imagined I would ever even read a book about witches and vampires .Looking forward to the sequel.
Published 13 hours ago by Nancy
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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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