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A Discovery of Witches: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy) Hardcover – February 8, 2011
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Ten More Books for Readers of A Discovery of Witches
Interested in learning more about magic and science?
I may have written a novel, but I’m still a history professor! Here are some reading suggestions for those of you whose curiosity has been stirred up by the story of Diana Bishop, Matthew Clairmont, and the hunt for the missing alchemical manuscript Ashmole 782. All of the titles here are non-fiction, and inspired some aspect of A Discovery of Witches.
Elias Ashmole, Theatrum Chemicum Brittanicum: Don’t be put off by the Latin title. This is a collection of English alchemical texts that were gathered by Elias Ashmole. The missing alchemical manuscript that Diana finds in the Bodleian library is not among them, alas, but if you are interested in the subject this is a fascinating glimpse into the mysterious texts that she studies as a historian.
Janet Browne, Darwin’s Origin of Species: Books That Changed the World: Browne is not only a great scholar, but a superb writer. A highly-regarded biographer of Darwin, here she turns her talents to writing a “biography” of his most famous book—and one of Matthew Clairmont’s favorites, as well.
Owen Davies, Grimoires: A History of Magic Books. If you are interested in the history of magic and witchcraft, Davies’ description of the development of magical spellbooks will provide insights into how ideas about magic, science, and nature developed over the centuries.
Carol Karlsen, The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England. Diana Bishop is descended from a long line of witches. You will find out more about some of those witches—the Bishops and the Proctors—while reading this classic interpretation of what happened in Salem in 1692.
Robert Kehew, Ezra Pound, and W. D. Snodgrass, Lark in the Morning: The Verses of the Troubadours. Matthew is a very old vampire, who has slightly old-fashioned views on love and romance. You might be surprised at the love poetry of his early life, and come away with a whole new appreciation for “old-fashioned.”
Bruce Moran’s Distilling Knowledge: Alchemy, Chemistry, and the Scientific Revolution. This marvelous book is not only deeply learned but extremely readable. Touched with Moran’s sense of humor and his compassion for his subject’s tireless efforts to understand the natural world, you will come away from this book with a new appreciation for the alchemists.
Alexander Roob, Alchemy and Mysticism. Diana Bishop is an expert on the enigmatic imagery that is used in alchemical texts. Many are included in Roob’s book, along with other illustrations from mystical and magical traditions.
Lyndal Roper, Witch Craze: Terror and Fantasy in Baroque Germany. This scholarly book was important to me as I wrote A Discovery of Witches because it helped me understand how the belief in witches influenced the imagination. Many of the notions we have about witchcraft today have their roots in these terrifying fantasies.
James Sharpe, Instruments of Darkness: Witchcraft in Early Modern England. Sharpe’s book is an ideal starting point if you are interested in the history of witchcraft beyond Salem or Germany. One of his most controversial arguments focuses on the role that women played as accusers—not just as victims—in the witchcraft trials.
Bryan Sykes, The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry. I was fascinated by the combination of history, genealogy, and science in Sykes’s work. The book provides an introduction to the study of genetics, and to the legacies that are carried from generation to generation among the population.--Deborah Harkness (Photo of Deborah Harkness © Marion Ettlinger)
From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
"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 ....dangerous...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!Read more ›
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?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I started this book well over a month ago & read all the way to page 538 before putting it down. I forced myself to finish it today so that I could mark it as 'read'. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Bizzles1
If you don't want to be reminded of twilight then don't read this book. I should have read the reviews first and I may not have picked it up. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Brittney Yon
A dear friend recommended this trilogy to me. She has exceptional taste and judgment. She was reading hardcover and would call to read me a snippet saying "Close your eyes... Read morePublished 3 days ago by Tessa Byte
Much of this book is set in Oxford and I loved the references to places I've visited such as the gorgeous Bodleian Library. Read morePublished 8 days ago by bookprincess
A spellbinding story with history and intrigue. If you enjoyed Twilight Saga, you will love this story linePublished 8 days ago by GGH