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A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy) Paperback – December 27, 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
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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
I must start this review with a disclaimer. I hate vampire books. The Twilight series is tops on my list of insipid reads. I don’t like vampire books because they are about vile characters who prey on younger helpless women. That said, I loved A Discovery of Witches. The vampire characters were complex and the relationship between the vampire and the witch was compelling. The characters were complex and interesting. The story moved with an engaging pace and plenty of twists and turns to keep me guessing. I highly recommend this read.
The plot makes me think exactly enough to keep me entertained. I almost need a diagram but in a good way. Not in a game of thrones way (still love GoT, don't get mad).
The settings alone are enough to suck you in. Book 2 is happening today. I'm thankful I didn't know of this book earlier and didn't have to wait eons for the next installments.
***Spoilers and edits have been added below.***
Things I wasn't fond of:
1. Pale vampires. Why? Why can't they just be normal flesh colors?
2. The constant creation of new magic to propel the character. She's nearly been given unlimited unknown power.
3. Too quick of a romance. Realistically, you just don't become that infatuated so quickly. The pacing is off on this part.
Keep on keeping on author lady. This book doesn't suck.
Book One in All Souls Trilogy
I found this book to be slow. Yes, Ms. Harkness is introducing us to the characters and some of their history. We are introduced to witches, deomans, vampires, and warm-bloods—good and evil. Ms. Harkness sets us up for the search by Diana (witch) and Matthew (vampire) and a host of others for a lost book: Book of Life.
I heard about the books from a FB sister who said she had not expected to like the books. Based upon the first half of the first book, I was not interested in continuing. But I’m glad I did.
Interestingly, it's many of the secondary characters that I found most interesting, and I wished there was a bit more of the families and colleagues around earlier in the story to pull me in more quickly. As cheesy as it may sound, I did really enjoy the concept of a yoga class just for "creatures" (how witches, vampires, and daemons are referred to), with each group having their own particular strengths and weaknesses in the practice. I guess I ended up enjoying the world and the quirks of it better than I actually enjoyed the two main characters, who I never really found compelling.
This first book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, as it is the first in a trilogy. I went ahead and bought the second book, and so far am about halfway through it, and the the same issues I have with the first one are still present - I'm liking the world, but just not liking the main characters all that much. So I've kind of lost my drive to really keep pushing forward. I guess perhaps I'm also a little bored of the whole "vampire love is so strong and possessive - they make me FEEL things" paranormal romance trope.
But it was still an enjoyable read overall. I wouldn't NOT recommend it if you want something interesting to read!