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A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Series) Paperback – December 27, 2011
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Look for the hit TV series “A Discovery of Witches,” streaming on AMC Plus, Sundance Now and Shudder. Season 2 premieres January 9, 2021!
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.
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From Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley and Caldecott Honor artist Lauren Castillo. | Learn more
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From the Publisher
“Romantic, erudite, and suspenseful . . . Harkness attends to every scholarly and emotional detail with whimsy, sensuality, and humor.”
—O, The Oprah Magazine
“A thoroughly grown-up novel packed with gorgeous historical detail and a gutsy, brainy heroine to match. . . . Harkness writes with thrilling gusto about the magical world.”
“Harkness conjures up a scintillating paranormal story. . . . Discover why everyone’s talking about this magical book.”
“Delightfully well-crafted and enchantingly imaginative . . . It has some of the same ineluctable atmosphere that made Anne Rice’s vampire books such a popular success.”
“A debut novel with a big supernatural canvas . . . Its ambitions are world-sized, ranging across history and zeroing in on DNA, human and otherwordly. Age-old tensions between science and magic and between evolution and alchemy erupt as Diana seeks to unlock the secrets of Ashmole 782.”
—Los Angeles Times
“Harkness, an eloquent writer, conjures this world of witches with Ivy League degrees and supernatural creatures completely—and believably—while maintaining a sense of wonder. . . . A Discovery of Witches is that rare historical novel that manages to be as intelligent as it is romantic. And it is supernatural fiction that those of us who usually prefer to stay grounded in reality can get caught up in. Pardon the pun, but Witches is truly spellbinding.”
—San Antonio News-Express
“Readers who thrilled to Elizabeth Kostova’s 2005 blockbuster, The Historian, will note the parallels, but A Discovery of Witches is a modern Romeo and Juliet story, with older, wiser lovers. Blood will flow when a witch and a vampire fall for each other. Author Deborah Harkness, a UCLA history professor, brings vast knowledge and research to the page.”
—Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Harkness works her own form of literary alchemy by deftly blending fantasy, romance, history, and horror into one completely bewitching book.”
“A Discovery of Witches becomes increasingly charming as it goes along. . . . A shrewdly written romp and a satisfying snow-day read for those of us who heartily enjoyed the likes of Anne Rice and Marion Zimmer Bradley. By the book’s rousing end . . . I was impatient for the sequel.”
About the Author
Visit www.deborahharkness.com and follow “Deborah Harkness” on Facebook and @DebHarkness on Twitter.
- Publisher : Penguin Books; 1st edition (December 27, 2011)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 579 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0143119680
- ISBN-13 : 978-0143119685
- Item Weight : 1.14 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.44 x 1.12 x 8.38 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,731 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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The reason I knocked off a star is because I wish I had more of the actual plot instead of just constantly focusing on the romance. The other concepts are so interesting I wish the author would explore those more. I understand their romance is at the center of it all, but jeez we get it they love each other can we discuss any of the other million things going on for just a moment? Maybe that's just personal preference, though.
Also, it feels like Diana is constantly a damsel in distress and it is frustrating that even when she finally starts using her powers, she still needs a man to save her. And when her aunts are trying to help, the only person who actually helps her at all is a vampire and a man that she only just met, and it seems like a slap in the face to her aunts. I realize Diana has overwhelming power that is difficult for her aunts to teach, but Matthew isn't even a witch and he can help her.
I was torn between 3 and 4 stars because I really did enjoy the book. The alchemy and the feuding of all the creatures is interesting, I want to know what happens, but Diana is so subservient and always needs a man to rescue her it is just annoying, and Matthew is just an ass.
I really want to know what happens because the story and the writing are both great, but their relationship just dominates everything and it gets monotonous and they both annoy me, so for that reason I do not think I will read the next book. HOWEVER, if your preference is extra sappy love stories with plot on the side, this is for you. I don't say that as an insult because that is the type of book a lot of people like and maybe that's what this is supposed to be, but I was just looking for something else.
BLECH! Get me a bucket. This is no Harry Potter for grown-ups. NY Times, you lied!
But because I do value my own sanity and do not feel the needs to keep wondering about what happened next I will read the next book hopping the author doesn't simply tries to stuff our faces with obsucure snippet of historical facts.
Top reviews from other countries
Some great imaginative touches in the book, particularly the magical house, but much of it was rather too 'Twilight' for me, and the obsessive love and devotion thing overdone.
If I got the following books for free I might read them to see if Diana develops into a more likeable character, but otherwise I wouldn't read them. Sorry.
Diana Bishop, an American academic studying in Oxford, is well aware that she is a witch but has always refused to accept her powers. The reasons for this are gradually revealed throughout the story and, as a result, the reader is more sympathetic to the character. The world Diana inhabits includes witches as well as vampires and daemons (creative types who are mercurial and unpredictable but not inherently evil) and all three groups are after a manuscript which it appears can only be accessed by Diana.
She is befriended and later falls in love with a vampire - this is a serious no no in Diana's world and their love affair is the catalyst for troubles far beyond the characters of the story. The novel moves from Oxford to France and then on to upstate New York before ending on a significant cliffhanger that leads into Book 2.
On the whole I found the story engaging, accessible and well written. It made a pleasant change from my more usual choice of story. Mostly it is told in the first person by Diana with occasional chapters being told in the third person. This does break the flow of the story somewhat and it is a shame that the author could not have found a way of conveying the information we needed whilst still in Diana's voice. Jim Butcher (author of the Dresden Files) is a master of this and perhaps could have proved a source of reference for the writer.
My only real criticisms of the story is that the love story between Diana and Matthew is overdone in places to the point of being almost nauseatingly saccharine. I can only assume that this was to attract the Twilight and Fifty Shades fans to the book but I hope that it is toned down in the other books of the trilogy.
Secondly an essential power that forms the major plot element at the end of the story (and, given how the book ends, presumably for the whole of book 2) is only introduced very late on. It would have been nice to have it foreshadowed at least earlier in the book. I wonder if the author had decided how to the end the story late on and was not willing to go back and stitch in some references or hints early on (or maybe I just missed them!)
Overall though it was an enjoyable read. I look forward to the Sky adaptation and will turn my attention to book 2 in the fullness of time.
Many reviews stated that Diana became wet. I do not necessarily agree. She was a strong and confident character at the onset because she had worked hard and achieved success as an academic. This was her life's work and she was good at it. Her supernatural powers, on the other hand, were ill developed and repressed and bounded so she did not have confidence in them. So to be thrust in a maelstrom of events where everyone wanted a piece your power which you are ignorant of or can't access, was frightening.; and rightly so as she could have died on a number of occasions.
Enter the protector. I loved him as he was described as a perfect alfa. But it all ended in the description. We did not see him do much outside of his commanding presence. He also failed the most basic of basic test of any hero and that is to protect the heroine or die trying. Actually he nearly killed her trying to survive. Therefore l will wait for the movies as they promise to be great.