A Discovery Of Witches: A Novel by Deborah HarknessA Discovery Of Witches: A Novel by Deborah Harkness

A Discovery Of Witches: A Novel

byDeborah Harkness

Hardcover | November 27, 2013

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A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.
Deborah Harkness is a scholar and writer specializing in the history of science and medicine. She has received numerous awards, including Fulbright, Guggenheim, and National Humanities Center fellowships. Currently a professor of history at the University of Southern California, her most recent academic publication is The Jewel House: ...
Title:A Discovery Of Witches: A NovelFormat:HardcoverDimensions:592 pages, 9.28 × 6.44 × 1.77 inPublished:November 27, 2013Publisher:Viking AdultLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0670022411

ISBN - 13:9780670022410


Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good Storyline but overwritten After watching the first season of the TV adaption of the book and loving it, I decided to give it a try since I usually love the books more. I found the show followed the plot of the book fairly well and I did enjoy it. However, it was way overwritten! Pages upon pages of unnecessary details just made the book drag on and really took away from the story for me. Also the show definitely had a heady romance going on and I thought they might be limiting the steamier scenes because of it being a TV show. How wrong I was! If you are reading this book for the steamy scenes you will be sorely disappointed! What made it disappointing for me though is rather than just a lack of those scenes, it just doesn't make sense for the characters and their previous experience and ages. I won't say much more so as not to give spoilers, but it just seemed a confusing way for the author to go and ended up actually taking away from the book for me because it seemed so juvenile. Overall, I think I will push on and try to tackle the next book, hoping it improves because I do enjoy the story, but it won't become on of my favourites that I'll be rereading anytime soon.
Date published: 2019-02-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Liking it While i’m Liking this one so far, i’m Almost at the end . I’m definitely enjoying the characters and the magic. I love this history behind everything with alchemy and the old names and how they are connected to witchcraft historically it’s so written in so well. I’m just annoyed by some of the finer details. The descriptions can be a little over the top but definitely do well to set to tone and the setting. Over all I do want to see where this story goes with the other 2 but it’s one that i’m Holding a little bit at arms length.
Date published: 2018-12-27
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Started Okay and Then... I mean it wasn't the worst book I have ever read, but then the second half just dragged on for me. The characters grew to be annoying, the dialogue made me cringe and the plot seemed to come to a screeching halt. Maybe it will be one of those series where the second book is better, but I already took a chance when I bought this one full price hardcover and I'm not ready for another disappointment
Date published: 2018-10-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved this! This book is such an enjoyable read! The characters are all very well written and the development is excellent! It is very enjoyable.
Date published: 2018-03-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from On the top of my favourite list! I picked up this book randomly and I couldn't put it down. I was only half way through when I bought the next two because I had to know what happened next. This story was written super well and draw me in quickly. One of my favourite stories of all time.
Date published: 2018-02-25
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Poor attempt at Twilight fanfiction I didn't even finish this one, nor have I bothered reading the sequel I bought because this reminded me so much of Twilight.
Date published: 2018-02-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from not as amazing as i was told it would be but enough of a plot to keep me interested to read the next one
Date published: 2018-01-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not bad... The plot was interesting, but it sometimes dragged for me. Wish there would've been a little more action.
Date published: 2018-01-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from An Intriguing Start To A Trilogy Knowing this book is only the first in a trilogy is what prevented my finger from clicking a lower star rating than the three I finally selected. This book started off on a strong note; by the time I reached the end, I was exhausted by the sudden influx of new characters and the bang-bang-bang sequence of events that took place one right after another. Things quickly became rushed, unclear, and confusing; I'm hopeful that the next book will go smoothly and lead up to a satisfying conclusion. However, I must say that I'm a trifle disappointed, considering that I've had this book recommended to me many times over.
Date published: 2017-11-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Long but good read I feel some of these reviews are quite harsh. If you're looking for a bit of whimsy, lots of historical links, scene detail (sometimes over detailed to be honest),and a love story subplot that is at some times questionable (come on its fantasy novel you aren't here for real world scenarios) then this book is worth a read. I've read the whole series and I enjoyed it. I even recommended it to a few people, giving them the upfront about the sometimes run on scenes (mostly descriptions of food and wine) and point blank eroticism that may not always been age appropriate. It's worth a read if you've liked books about Vampires/Humans/Daemons in the past. I urge you to give it a try!
Date published: 2017-10-02
Rated 2 out of 5 by from As bad as Twilight Entertaining, but really, way too far-fetched even for a fantasy. I'm not even talking about the fact that Diana spent 90% of the book eating or sleeping. I'm not talking about the ease with which she devoted herself to a controlling man that dictated her every move and even held her tightly AGAINST HER WILL when she was experiencing a panic attack. I'm not talking about the pages and pages dedicated to the description of wine, of old books, of the way each character smelled... Instead, I'm referring to the weird, convoluted family ties. The contrived storyline. The overdramatic way that Diana discovered and grew into her powers. The fact that she fainted at the slightest provocation. The way that she devoted her entire existence to a guy that she knew for LESS THAN A MONTH, and even seemed to love him more than her own guardians. The fact that Matthew was presented as the ideal, flawless boyfriend, but *husky vampire voice* "I'm really dangerous, ok, you probably shouldn't trust me, or whatever. I'm pretty hot though, so you'll find that difficult to accomplish." Not to mention the ridiculous plot twists that were so boring and strange and which usually fizzed out before arriving at any real substance. I found myself rolling my eyes at least once per chapter. Also not to mention the overall cheesiness. (It was like reading a fantastical soap opera). I could go on. Still, I had to give it something.... It kept me interested, and it even coaxed me into secretly reading at my desk at work. I am ashamed. It might make a fun TV show, which is apparently in the works; but you won't find me recommending this book to anyone.
Date published: 2017-09-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved this! This audio book version of A Discovery of Witches is outstanding! The narrator of this novel (and the entire series), Jennifer Ikeda is awesome. Her interpretation of each character's voice just brings them alive. If you loved Jim Dale's narration of the Harry Potter series you'll definitely love this audio book.
Date published: 2017-09-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A rich and engaging modern fantasy I picked up this book on a whim because the title sounded neat and the cover was pretty, and proceeded to fall completely in love with it. The biggest problem I tend to have with fantasy is when the world building comes at the suspense of the characters, but Harkness built a rich, multi-faceted world while also introducing complex and believable characters that drove the story. I can see how this book isn't for everyone because of its overall denseness, but I personally loved the author's attention to detail and didn't think it bogged down the story at all.
Date published: 2017-07-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Discovery of Witches I loved this book. Everything about it was wonderful, from the characters to the library. I highly recommend this trilogy.
Date published: 2017-01-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from love it what a wonderful book stayed up most of the night reading this book and couldn't wait to read the sequel to it, is similar in nature to Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse Mystery series.
Date published: 2013-07-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from When J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer meet If I remember correctly, I bought this book about 4 months after it was published, mainly because the abstract attracted me. I had truly enjoyed the “Harry Potter” series and I must admit that I had (and still have) a soft spot for the “Twilight” saga. The author has built here a well balanced mixture of fantasy, romance, history and suspense by focusing mainly on the mysterious alchemy manuscript that is Ashmole 782. Her story is beautifully written and includes a lot of details that helps the reader immerse him/herself into the story. I particularly enjoyed her well researched historical description as well as the description she makes of Oxford and its campus and libraries. It felt has if I was there instead of here when I read those. I felt committed to the story. Until... Until, I advanced further into the story and realized that it tended to resemble more and more an adult version of Twilight. At first it didn't truly bother me that much; should the author have adapted the love story and sensual details to the fact that her two main characters are in their mid-thirties, it would have probably been fine. The problem is that she didn't which makes this part of the plot sound unrealistic and a tad bit too cheesy. As for the characters, I found that the author’s strength lied mainly with her supporting characters (such as Marcus, Ysabeau, Sarah and Emily) more that with Diana and Matthew, who are her mains characters. All in all, a dense book where immersing yourself remains a possibility as long as you’re able to live with the occasional lack of realism of the two main characters. For more on this book and others, visit my blog at: ladybugandotherbookworms.blogspot.com
Date published: 2013-04-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Blah I actually had this book on my shelf for over a year and hadn't gotten around to reading it and in retrospect I wish that I had left the book on the shelf. The story was banal, and the characters supremely uninteresting. Needless to say I will not be reading the second book hoping it will be better than the first.
Date published: 2012-12-11
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Dreadful This book is painfully overwritten. When anything of interest does happen, it is so buried within the mundane text that you will find yourself skimming over the endless details hoping upon hope that there will be some payoff, (for which there is none). The witch/ vampire/daemon yoga class is standout drivel and should give you some idea of the torture you are in for should you choose to plow through this dense and uneventful novel. What starts out as an intriguing mystery turns into a cheap romance novel which could have easily be titled "Witches Who Love Vampires and the Witches, Vampires and Daemons Who Hate Them." The main characters are unlikeable at best and what is supposed to pass for eroticism and sexual innuendo between the two is uncomfortably juvenile considering their advanced ages. I can't believe this is the first book of a trilogy, (which I will not continue), but considering that Harkness must explain every minute detail of her character's moment to moment existence, I am surprised that she could reign herself in at only 3 novels. The suspense for this novel hinges on what is contained in a spellbound manuscript entitled Ashmole 783 which is mysteriously summoned by a reluctant witch. She is so annoying in her unwillingness to discover and use her powers even when her life is threatened that you will simply want to slap her senseless, (and her p***y-whipped vampire boyfriend, too). Suffice it to say that the entire cast are a bunch of (rhymes with Ashmole(s) and your life will probably be better if you avoid this novel.
Date published: 2012-05-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic if you're into fantasy Personally I loved this book. Felt like there was so much happening and was just impossible to get bored. I heard it was kinda of like twilight meets harry potter and in a way thats true. It's a good lengthy read and doesn't just throw in all the facts but works its way in great detail through the novel - but not in a way that gets dull. It's a great read! I can not wait until the next one comes out!
Date published: 2012-05-10
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Passable I picked this up because I'd been enticed by all the good reviews I was hearing. This wasn't the greatest book I've ever read, but it was all right. I know it takes time to build up the story and characters, especially when a trilogy is intended but it was too slow for half of the book and I felt shortchanged when it's slow pace didn't even reveal good, strong character development. I feel both Matthew and Diana are somewhat two-dimensional and their love wasn't quite believable for me. So often I felt Harkness was trying to duplicate Anita Blake and Jean-Claude's (Laurell K. Hamilton) relationship but never came close to attaining it. I sometimes felt Harkness was simply barreling forward without any clear direction or intention. I'll still be picking up the second installment, mostly because it takes a seriously terrible debut for me to abandon a series altogether and also because I feel like it could greatly improve once the development is over and done with... But I was a bit let down.
Date published: 2012-03-18
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Just Couldn't Get Into It I had high expectations for this book after reading the reviews and it being recommended by a friend; however I just could not get into this book. Where so many people found it intriguing a read they couldn't put down, it took me close to 4 months to read. I just found the plot slow and boring, I didn't find much about Diana exciting or even the dark vampire hero Matthew. I think this book obviously has found many fans, sadly I just wasn't one of them. I won't be bothering with the next in the trilogy.
Date published: 2012-02-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome read! I absolutely loved this book! Great story beautifully told about incredible characters! Diana Bishop comes from a powerful and well-known line of witches, but she's always rejected any use of witchcraft, instead becoming a successful scholar of alchemy. While working in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, Diana unwittingly calls up a manuscript that has been hidden by spells for hundreds of years, but is desired by the witches, the vampires and the demons. Once the supernatural communities know Diana was able to call the manuscript she's a marked witch, and unfortunately, also a witch who knows nothing about her powers. Enter Matthew De Clairmont, a vampire who Diana is immediately drawn to, even though everyone around her warns against mixing of species. But when Diana is kidnapped and tortured by another witch to try to find out how she called the manuscript, it becomes obvious that more is going on and if Diana and Matthew want to be together they will have to fight some big battles. Deborah Harkness has written a powerfully beautiful, incredibly engaging first novel. The prose is lyrical and poetic, while also managing to be thrilling, action-packed and intelligent, filled with history, political intrigue, romance, family drama and of course, magic. I inhaled this story, and didn't want it to end, especially because it doesn't really end, instead setting up for a sequel. While I usually dislike books that leave you hanging, because this story was so well-written and enjoyable I was just left with my appetite whetted, and anxious to read the next book and find out what happens next for Diana and Matthew. I listened to this as an audio-book, and the narrator was fantastic, perfectly handling the many accents of the various characters and bringing the characters to life on an extra level. I can't recommend this book highly enough if you enjoy historical fiction with a supernatural focus. Fabulous book!
Date published: 2011-10-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read It kind of started out slow but necessary to develop the mythology being used with interesting twists on several popular occult figures. By the fifth chapter I was hooked and couldn't put down. Originally, borrowed from the library but when I found out the sequel is not out until November I bought my own copy to read over and over again.
Date published: 2011-09-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I LOVED this book and can't wait for its sequel! I knew I would enjoy this book right from page 1. For me, this book is extremely well written and full of fun and engaging fantasy (with a sexy dash o' romance). Sure, there are some cheesy bits - which had me rolling my eyes - but deep down, I was secretly loving the romantic cheese! In addition to the writing and overall storyline, I also very much enjoyed the inclusion of history. Deb's descriptions of Oxford; alchemy; old houses, castles and manuscripts... really added to my overall enjoyment. I was able to really visualize everything that Deb's writing described - I tell ya, I lost myself for several hours in this book and felt "out of place" when it was time to come back to reality. I hope you have a great time with this book like I did!
Date published: 2011-08-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Something with substance! I had asked my ex-supervisor at Chapters what book I should read now, since she knew that I am currently digging supernatural books (Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs, Cassandra Claire, Kelley Armstrong, Stephanie Meyer, etc.). She said to me to read this book. To quote her, "It's an adult version of Twilight." So I bought this book that day and read it. When she means "adult" version, she meant that it had substance and was not geared to the Young Adults. Harkness did an excellent job! I had quite thoughroughly enjoyed the book! I LOVE history and the main character Diana Bishop is a history major in a sense. PLUS she is from a familly well-known witches (Bishop) but she tries not to use her power because she wants to make a name for herself not beacuse of her powers and name, but for herself. She meets Matthew Clairmont (a vampire) and at first have a shakey friendship at first (witches and vampires don't mix) and it eventually blossoms, and he saves her from other witches, daemons, and vampires wanting a long lost manuscript that she had found. This is left open for another book (rumour from Harkness' site is this is going to be a triology!) and I really cannot wait for the next installment. I had really enjoyed the history aspect of this because I am a history minor and some periods of time I knew what they were talking about. This was a page turner for me and if you like the others I had said above, you will love this new novel!
Date published: 2011-08-03
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Only thing missing is the teen angst...or maybe not This book was promising to start off. I was quickly enthralled by the combination of history with what would seemingly turn out to be a unique and plausible explanation for witches and vampires. Unfortunately, it didn't take long for the book to fall to the embarrassingly teen-ish story lines of unbelievably, albeit nearly translucent vampires, weak, boyish damsels in distress and unrequited sexual desire. The book was a disappointing supernatural harlequin romance from about midway through but I kept on plugging only to be left entirely in the dark about what happens to the characters. The author has said it will be a trilogy but I can honestly say I have no desire to pick up two more of these books.
Date published: 2011-07-22
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Terrible I was looking forward to a fun summer read, but this thing dragged on for almost 600 pages and didn't resolve any of the major plot points. Adding a few historical details does not elevate this novel above the teeny bopper-bodice ripper vampire craze.
Date published: 2011-07-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Witches, Vampires and Daemons-great read This book is awesome! Witches, Vampires and Daemons in this book living in today's world. Add in some really great world history, and some modern science and amazing settings, plus just a touch of romance and you have a wonderful whole story. The book runs smoothly and there is new adventure in each chapter keeping you interested. Great for guys or gals. This is not a typical vampire book. The important themes are history and science.
Date published: 2011-06-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Spellbinding!!! I will admit it took me a bit to actually start reading this book. I bought it after reading the description of the book, but the book sat on my shelf for a good month or so. I don’t know why I waited so long to read this book because once I started it I was hooked from the very first page, despite its slow start. Once I got into it I could not put this book down. It has been described in many reviews as the grown up version of Twilight…. ABSOLUTELY NOT!! Yes it does have a vampire and a warm-blooded in a forbidden/unlikely relationship it is NOTHING like Twilight. It is a story all on its own. It’s a tale with real magic and true storytelling. It’s a love story that comes leaping off the pages at you. Passion and sexual tension came in just the right magical mixture. Spellbinding description and bewitching sub plots were in abundance. Diana and Matthew are like no ordinary couple. Their love is doomed long before it blossomed. Yet, through the book, this love allows them to conquer, and fall, and pick themselves up again. By uniting together, they create a bond that no one or no creature can damage. The story is elegant and compelling, each and every character is well drawn and appealing in their own way(s). The romance is delightfully old-fashioned, a real courtship, something to be savored and anticipated. I was taken in and captivated by the settings, the history and the intricate tale that the author has woven. In addition to the main characters there is a complex web of other characters, which added to the story in a huge way, as the story as it turns out is not just about the two main characters, it involves all of the characters introduced. I cannot wait for the next installment of this story (coming in 2012), which this book as is turns out is just the beginning of a trilogy. Can’t wait to see what happens next. A MUST READ!!!
Date published: 2011-06-16
Rated 1 out of 5 by from A Twilight want-a-by I did not realize this was a trilogy, so after almost 600 pages I felt like the story had just started. A B rated movie Twilight want-a-by. It was redicoulous this powerful, leader of his world, vampire was almost defenseless in an attack.
Date published: 2011-06-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Surprisingly good. I was wary after reading the summary - figuring this could either be an epic adventure or a sour read, I was pleasantly surprised when it was the first. This book was worth the page count and the slowish start and had a surprising new outlook at the Supernatural world, and a good underlying message. People love who they love. It appeared to have all the things a scholar is interested in- and greatly researched too. History, Art, War, and Libraries. You could tell the author had done her stuff. And while it was predictable by the coverlet that the boy and girl would eventually fall for each other. The way it sort of happened was good ride. Can't wait for the next book
Date published: 2011-06-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wow! What a ride! Although I am an avid reader, I will be honest in that A Discovery of Witches has plenty of “big” words that I couldn’t define without assistance. But, don’t let that deter you in the least. Harkness’ ability to so masterfully write each and every sentence allows even those of us with a “normal” vocabulary to understand her intended meaning without losing anything in translation. Let’s face it, not many of us are scholars and there are probably 1000’s of words we don’t fully understand let alone use in every day conversation but, Deborah Harkness has the ability to use whatever terminology she so chooses and still be understood! With an exorbitant amount of verbiage, some may (and have according to some posted reviews) find the amount of world building and descriptive narrative too extensive, resulting in a somewhat slow start and a subsequent time consuming read. However, for many readers such as myself, the words and sentences of a story are like movie frames, each lending more and more to the “film” that plays through our minds as we read. As long as the abundance of information is laid out in a proper and effective manner, then the more words used to describe persons, places and things, the better picture we are able to “view”. So, while there may be an exceptional amount of information, every single bit of it is worth while and contributes quite effectively to the overall enjoyment of the story. A Discovery of Witches is a paranormal adventure with a twist. Complete with alchemy, magic, long lost manuscripts and secret societies, Deborah Harkenss introduces readers to a world where many prominent scholars and political figures are actually vampires or witches and those of an eccentrically inclined creative nature are, most likely, daemons. Very cool! In this world, there is a centuries old covenant of secrecy to which all “creatures” must abide. Hundreds of years ago a group of witches, vampires, and daemons formed the Congregation whose sole purpose is to govern all creatures and ensure that all mandates of the covenant are withheld. And, should any of the rules be broken, may the good Lord have mercy upon you because the Congregation sure as hell won’t! One of the Congregation’s rules is that those of a different “species” shall not enter into relations for fear of drawing too much attention. their biggest fear is that this attention may lead to the fiercely protected secrets of all creatures becoming known to humans. Here’s where we find the “twist” to be found within the pages of A Discovery of Witches. While a thought provoking, intriguing, and genuinely wonderful adventure, I believe that Deborah Harnkess has also shared a very important lesson with her readers. A lesson though taught in many fictional stories, it’s not one usually found in the paranormal genre: “Don't let the bigots and old school prudes dictate your life. Love who you want to love and fight for the right to choose your own destiny! What may have worked in the past may not be the proper course for the future. Times change and so do people so what’s to say a new generation can’t be more accepting than the last?” You see, the main characters Diana, a witch, and Matthew, a vampire, fall in love. Despite all the rules, regulations, and reasons to the contrary, they defy the odds…and the Congregation…and fall completely and hopelessly in love. The road is not easy and Matthew definitely has his work cut out for him, but alas Diana just can’t refuse her destiny. You love who you love and no matter who tells you it’s wrong, you just can’t turn the “love bug” away when he comes a flutterin’ in your direction! Harkness brings to the imagination a wonderfully intriguing cast of characters which readers will find interesting to learn about, yet a little difficult to relate to. While all characters are well presented and lend definite importance to the story, I found that almost all had a bit of a “cold” edge which made identifying with them a bit hard. I fear that the abundance of foundation and world-building may have detracted from the effectiveness of the character development. Diana is rather “stand-offish” and frustrating in her staunch refusal to use magic. Matthew is quite controlling and somewhat abrupt. Many others just seem somewhat “incomplete”. Please don’t take these points too seriously when weighing in on your decision whether or not to read A Discovery of Witches because at the end of the day, there is just so much going on that this lack of development was really only apparent in retrospect and in no significant way detracted from my overall enjoyment of the adventure. The apparent amount of research and time that Deborah Harkness obviously spent on her “baby” is mind boggling. Complete with rich, full bodied detail and a breathtakingly intense romance between a vampire and witch, A Discovery of Witches is not a quick read to be sure, but one well worth the time required to complete.
Date published: 2011-05-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely a great read I loved this book....the characters, especially Matthew, the vampire. Charming, smart, strong and fierce... It started a bit slow, but once all of the characters were introduced, it really took off. It's a long book, but certainly worth the time to read it.
Date published: 2011-05-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Initial Outing The first three quarters of this book are fantastic. They fly by and keep you up at night. Then the last hundred pages drag along and while I value the character development. The ending felt much more like a preparation for the rest of the series. Unlike other trilogies I have read this book does not stand up on its own well. However, it is a page turning fun historical/occult action adventure up until then. Also the romance is very slow moving and a bit old school which though in many ways appropriate for the characters seems to lack some spark towards the end. There is a great deal of flourish and build up to a relationship which SPOILER ALERT is never consummated. The writing in the action sequences is great but the romantic side of the book can at times make it seem more like a harlequin romance. This is a great injustice to the overall story, but this is just the first book so hopefully the next two will improve the overall picture. I think the author does a good job overall
Date published: 2011-04-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from not so good I had high expectations for this book but was sourly dissapointed. it felt like a romance novelists attempt at the supernatural genre but predictable and empty. there are so many great books that i do not reccomend this one at all. i admit it had potential about 100 pages in but came up too short. and when comparing this to young reader works like the hunger games, twilight series and the mortal instruments series, i felt this book was lacking any of the intensity and build up one would come to expect from an adult title.
Date published: 2011-04-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from First in a series I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I could not put it down, and became livid when members of my family started hiding it on to watch my frustration as I searched for it. The only downside to this book is that it's the first of a trilogy. No where on the website does it say this, which is where I ordered it from. Had I known the second book is not due until 2012, I would have witheld buying it until I could go straight into the next novel. The content is remiscent of a strange hybrid of Michael Crichton's techno-thrillers and the old Diana Tregane (if I recall the name correctly!) stories featured in the Best of Marion Zimmer Bradley Fantasy Magazine (Vol. 2). There are moments of science or historical debates, followed rapidly by scenes which, for any adult lovers of Twilight, put Stephanie Meyer to shame. Readers who enjoy authors like Diana Gabaldon will surely love this book!
Date published: 2011-04-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from INTERESTING SUPERNATURAL READ Dr. Diana Bishop is a history scholar working on a presentation she is about to make on alchemy. Researching in the Bodliean Library she comes across an ancient manuscript that mysteriously opens when she touches it. Oh, did I forget to mention that Dr. Bishop is also a witch. She would like to forget it and live as a regular human. The mysterious death of her parents, both witches, convinced her early in her life that she had no use for her powers. However, the mysterious book brings all sorts of complications with it, including the appearance of other witches, demons and vampires intent on finding out what exactly she discovered. Included in this unwanted entourage is Matthew Clairmont, a research geneticist. Oh, and before I forget to mention it, Matthew happens to be a centuries old vampire. Needless to say a very complicated relationship forms between Diana and Matthew as they pursue the hidden meaning of the magical manuscript. I loved the characters in this book. Diana’s aunts are wonderful, Matthew’s “mother” is the perfect vampire mother-in-law, and the peripheral characters are all intriguing. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a little slow moving at first but once the characters were established things moved along nicely. Non-traditional vampires are bit of a hit and miss for me. I couldn’t get into the Twilight series and am undecided about Charlaine Harris, but Ms. Harkness did well. My only complaint about this book is that some parts tend to go on and on (and on and on) about wine. Reading Ms. Harkness’ bio I discovered that she has a very successful wine blog, so I can forgive this indulgence. The conclusion of the book was very open-ended so I am eagerly anticipating at least a sequel, if not a series.
Date published: 2011-04-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Highly entertaining! I wasn't sure if I was up to yet another supernatural work of fiction but I was very pleasantly surprised by this first of Deborah Harkness' "All Souls" trilogy. A different take on a very old story - vampires, daemons and witches but I found myself turning page after page and finishing 500+ pages in just two days. Great book to pass along to friends. Very enjoyable and entertaining. Can't wait for the next installment in the trilogy!
Date published: 2011-04-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Bewitching Although it gets off to a rather shaky start, Harkness' A Discovery of Witches is a bewitching debut. I say it gets off to a shaky start because I really had difficulty with the first chapter. I found the writing style really awkward and hard to get into. Luckily, either I got used to it quickly, or things improved in the second chapter because I soon found myself immersed in the tale of Diana Bishop, a witch who despite being descended from a long line of witches dating back to the Salem Witch trials, doesn't want anything to do with magic. It's a little odd, based on Diana's aversion to magic, that she has chosen the history of Alchemy as her field of study. On leave from a tenured teaching post at Yale, Diana is at Oxford continuing her research on the history of science, specifically the late 17th century where science begins to overtake the belief in alchemy and magic. When a routine request to see a particular document brings a magically warded, much sought-after, ancient manuscript into her hands, Diana is thrust into the middle of a string of events that make it impossible to ignore her magic any longer. She soon finds herself the target of other witches, as well as vampires and daemons. Diana comes under the scrutiny of one vampire in particular, the dark and dangerous Matthew Clairmont. There really isn't anything new here, as far as the urban fantasy genre goes, but Harkness does put her own spin on things, especially the vampire mythos. She also does a great job of weaving historical fiction, science, fantasy and romance, with a real attention to detail. It's worth checking out. Oh, and just so you are warned....this isn't just a stand alone debut, there must be at least one more book to follow because the story isn't over at the end of this installment. Man, I hate that, but on the other hand, this book was good enough that I won't mind a second dose. Bewitching indeed. 2011-015
Date published: 2011-04-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enthralling read This was a thoroughly enjoyable read. It does have some flavour of Twilight and similar books that people insist on comparing it to, but it is considerably different. I would suggest much more deep and intricate with really infectious characters and intriguing plot. I am really looking forward to the continuing story when the second part is released.
Date published: 2011-03-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Entertaining, but the author didn't do her research Overall, it's a fun read. The characters are interesting, and dynamic, even if the plot moves slowly. However, I have a science background and the author's bumbling about with genetics and biology was annoying - it's obvious the author didn't understand Darwin very well. This leaves the effect that the characters, some of who are research biologists, don't understand genetics either. Perhaps next time, the author could get a university-level evolutionary biologist to read the technical parts before publishing? I'm not well acquainted with history, but I wonder if someone who was would find similar errors in the historical parts. Anyway, if you aren't scientifically inclined, you'll probably enjoy it loads. I did, in spite of the research problems.
Date published: 2011-03-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must Read!!! This book is by far the best book that I've read in a long time!!! I've read Harry Potter and all the Sookie Stackhouse books but this tops them all!! Its so good you won't be able to put it down. The only problem with this book is I couldn't wait to read more but I didn't want it to end. I'm afraid I won't be able to find anything as good!
Date published: 2011-03-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A real page turner! It's been a while since I've read a real page turner, and this was definitely one of them! A great novel about a witch, a vampire, and their families, friends, and foes. A great read.
Date published: 2011-03-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read! I don't usually read 'supernatural' books, though I admit to reading Harry Potter and Twilight, but the magic in this book is very skillfully woven into life so it doesn't feel like you are reading science fiction. This book was a great mix of history and mystery, and, of course, a love story. Really looking forward to the rest of the series!
Date published: 2011-03-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from If you're into supernatural reading this book is for you I really loved this book. While I do like supernatural books, I have not read them all as, while I do understand they are the current "it thing" for teens, I dont want to go into "supernatural overload" and kill my enjoyment of it. This book certianly is a page turner you will not want to put down, then once you are finished will want to pick it up and start all over again. It has some romance, mystery, and a great ending that will leave you yearning for the next in the series...I even found myself laughing quite a bit. I personally wouldnt compare it to twilight, I think it has its own uniqueness that you will have to read it and judge it for yourself. Happy reading :)
Date published: 2011-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Wonderful Read! I loved this book, couldn't put it down. It has a little romance, mystery, suspense, and a bit of "Di Vinci Code" all wrapped up into one. An excellent read! Would highly reccomend it to my friends. Enjoy!
Date published: 2011-03-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved it I absolutely loved this book and couldn't put it down. I flew through it (and it's 579 pages long!) in days. Many people are saying that it's just another twilight-vampire novel: it's not. Yes there are vampires. But there are also witches, and daemons. There are a lot of books with these characters in them, if you don't like them them don't read them. If you want a great story with a mystery and fast-paced action then pick up this book. You won't regret it. I can't wait for the next two books in the trilogy.
Date published: 2011-03-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! I really enjoyed this book. I always appreciate when an author has a new take on supernaturals. I would rec. to anyone and in fact have. I have heard that some found it hard to get into until about Chapter 15. I did not have that problem!
Date published: 2011-03-10
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Extremely Disappointing! There's really nothing more disappointing than a failed book and, for me, "A Discovery of Witches" fails in all regards. It is little more than a Harlequin Romance with pretension (and spells). It is sophomoric, uninspired and poorly written but, arguably, to be enjoyed by anyone fascinated with the current, teen-centric spate of vampire sagas. Any correspondence to the early work of Anne Rice is purely coincidental and exceedingly slight.
Date published: 2011-03-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Just when you thought you couldn't read another one.... If you're like me, you've been in Vampire overload these past few years. Everyone it seems wants to write the next Twilight, and uses the supernatural beings to personify the perfect man. Well, Deborah Harkness is no different. The Vampire Matthew Clairmont is devastatingly beautiful, a world renowned scholar, has wealth beyond measure, and smells divine...And that's where the similarities end. This is a whole new take on a genre that I believed to be done to death (pun intended). This is the first novel in what I think is to be a trilogy, and what a great romp through history and lore...and an ending that leaves you begging for the next installment! Time traveling Witches and Vampires?? I'm totally in! Bring it.
Date published: 2011-03-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best book to date! It is a great book that gets you hooked from the begininig. it is like Twilight but a adult version with all the love, heat , mystery and excitment! great book
Date published: 2011-03-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Book ! I read this book cover to cover within a week of buying it. It was interesting and informative. And absolute page turner. Interesting historical facts and fantastic characters. Vampires, Witches, Daemons.. Love story and mystery. Read it if you get the chance. I hope there is a 2nd book... it deserves to be written.
Date published: 2011-02-28

Read from the Book

Chapter 1The leather-bound volume was nothing remarkable. To an ordinary historian, it would have looked no different from hundreds of other manuscripts in Oxford’s Bodleian Library, ancient and worn. But I knew there was something odd about it from the moment I collected it.Duke Humfrey’s Reading Room was deserted on this late-September afternoon, and requests for library materials were filled quickly now that the summer crush of visiting scholars was over and the madness of the fall term had not yet begun. Even so, I was surprised when Sean stopped me at the call desk.“Dr. Bishop, your manuscripts are up,” he whispered, voice tinged with a touch of mischief. The front of his argyle sweater was streaked with the rusty traces of old leather bindings, and he brushed at it self-consciously. A lock of sandy hair tumbled over his forehead when he did.“Thanks,” I said, flashing him a grateful smile. I was flagrantly disregarding the rules limiting the number of books a scholar could call in a single day. Sean, who’d shared many a drink with me in the pink-stuccoed pub across the street in our graduate-student days, had been filling my requests without complaint for more than a week. “And stop calling me Dr. Bishop. I always think you’re talking to someone else.”He grinned back and slid the manuscripts—all containing fine examples of alchemical illustrations from the Bodleian’s collections—over his battered oak desk, each one tucked into a protective gray cardboard box. “Oh, there’s one more.” Sean disappeared into the cage for a moment and returned with a thick, quarto-size manuscript bound simply in mottled calfskin. He laid it on top of the pile and stooped to inspect it. The thin gold rims of his glasses sparked in the dim light provided by the old bronze reading lamp that was attached to a shelf. “This one’s not been called up for a while. I’ll make a note that it needs to be boxed after you return it.”“Do you want me to remind you?”“No. Already made a note here.” Sean tapped his head with his fingertips.“Your mind must be better organized than mine.” My smile widened.Sean looked at me shyly and tugged on the call slip, but it remained where it was, lodged between the cover and the first pages. “This one doesn’t want to let go,” he commented.Muffled voices chattered in my ear, intruding on the familiar hush of the room.“Did you hear that?” I looked around, puzzled by the strange sounds.“What?” Sean replied, looking up from the manuscript.Traces of gilt shone along its edges and caught my eye. But those faded touches of gold could not account for a faint, iridescent shimmer that seemed to be escaping from between the pages. I blinked.“Nothing.” I hastily drew the manuscript toward me, my skin prickling when it made contact with the leather. Sean’s fingers were still holding the call slip, and now it slid easily out of the binding’s grasp. I hoisted the volumes into my arms and tucked them under my chin, assailed by a whiff of the uncanny that drove away the library’s familiar smell of pencil shavings and floor wax.“Diana? Are you okay?” Sean asked with a concerned frown.“Fine. Just a bit tired,” I replied, lowering the books away from my nose.I walked quickly through the original, fifteenth-century part of the library, past the rows of Elizabethan reading desks with their three ascending bookshelves and scarred writing surfaces. Between them, Gothic windows directed the reader’s attention up to the coffered ceilings, where bright paint and gilding picked out the details of the university’s crest of three crowns and open book and where its motto, “God is my illumination,” was proclaimed repeatedly from on high.Another American academic, Gillian Chamberlain, was my sole companion in the library on this Friday night. A classicist who taught at Bryn Mawr, Gillian spent her time poring over scraps of papyrus sandwiched between sheets of glass. I sped past her, trying to avoid eye contact, but the creaking of the old floor gave me away.My skin tingled as it always did when another witch looked at me.“Diana?” she called from the gloom. I smothered a sigh and stopped.“Hi, Gillian.” Unaccountably possessive of my hoard of manuscripts, I remained as far from the witch as possible and angled my body so they weren’t in her line of sight.“What are you doing for Mabon?” Gillian was always stopping by my desk to ask me to spend time with my “sisters” while I was in town. With the Wiccan celebrations of the autumn equinox just days away, she was redoubling her efforts to bring me into the Oxford coven.“Working,” I said promptly.“There are some very nice witches here, you know,” Gillian said with prim disapproval. “You really should join us on Monday.”“Thanks. I’ll think about it,” I said, already moving in the direction of the Selden End, the airy seventeenth-century addition that ran perpendicular to the main axis of Duke Humfrey’s. “I’m working on a conference paper, though, so don’t count on it.” My aunt Sarah had always warned me it wasn’t possible for one witch to lie to another, but that hadn’t stopped me from trying.Gillian made a sympathetic noise, but her eyes followed me.Back at my familiar seat facing the arched, leaded windows, I resisted the temptation to dump the manuscripts on the table and wipe my hands. Instead, mindful of their age, I lowered the stack carefully.The manuscript that had appeared to tug on its call slip lay on top of the pile. Stamped in gilt on the spine was a coat of arms belonging to Elias Ashmole, a seventeenth-century book collector and alchemist whose books and papers had come to the Bodleian from the Ashmolean Museum in the nineteenth century, along with the number 782. I reached out, touching the brown leather.A mild shock made me withdraw my fingers quickly, but not quickly enough. The tingling traveled up my arms, lifting my skin into tiny goose pimples, then spread across my shoulders, tensing the muscles in my back and neck. These sensations quickly receded, but they left behind a hollow feeling of unmet desire. Shaken by my response, I stepped away from the library table.Even at a safe distance, this manuscript was challenging me—threatening the walls I’d erected to separate my career as a scholar from my birthright as the last of the Bishop witches. Here, with my hard-earned doctorate, tenure, and promotions in hand and my career beginning to blossom, I’d renounced my family’s heritage and created a life that depended on reason and scholarly abilities, not inexplicable hunches and spells. I was in Oxford to complete a research project. Upon its conclusion, my findings would be published, substantiated with extensive analysis and footnotes, and presented to human colleagues, leaving no room for mysteries and no place in my work for what could be known only through a witch’s sixth sense.But—albeit unwittingly—I had called up an alchemical manuscript that I needed for my research and that also seemed to possess an otherworldly power that was impossible to ignore. My fingers itched to open it and learn more. Yet an even stronger impulse held me back: Was my curiosity intellectual, related to my scholarship? Or did it have to do with my family’s connection to witchcraft?I drew the library’s familiar air into my lungs and shut my eyes, hoping that would bring clarity. The Bodleian had always been a sanctuary to me, a place unassociated with the Bishops. Tucking my shaking hands under my elbows, I stared at Ashmole 782 in the growing twilight and wondered what to do.My mother would instinctively have known the answer, had she been standing in my place. Most members of the Bishop family were talented witches, but my mother, Rebecca, was special. Everyone said so. Her supernatural abilities had manifested early, and by the time she was in grade school, she could outmagic most of the senior witches in the local coven with her intuitive understanding of spells, startling foresight, and uncanny knack for seeing beneath the surface of people and events. My mother’s younger sister, my Aunt Sarah, was a skilled witch, too, but her talents were more mainstream: a deft hand with potions and a perfect command of witchcraft’s traditional lore of spells and charms.My fellow historians didn’t know about the family, of course, but everyone in Madison, the remote town in upstate New York where I’d lived with Sarah since the age of seven, knew all about the Bishops. My ancestors had moved from Massachusetts after the Revolutionary War. By then more than a century had passed since Bridget Bishop was executed at Salem. Even so, rumors and gossip followed them to their new home. After pulling up stakes and resettling in Madison, the Bishops worked hard to demonstrate how useful it could be to have witchy neighbors for healing the sick and predicting the weather. In time the family set down roots in the community deep enough to withstand the inevitable outbreaks of superstition and human fear.But my mother had a curiosity about the world that led her beyond the safety of Madison. She went first to Harvard, where she met a young wizard named Stephen Proctor. He also had a long magical lineage and a desire to experience life outside the scope of his family’s New England history and influence. Rebecca Bishop and Stephen Proctor were a charming couple, my mother’s all-American frankness a counterpoint to my father’s more formal, old-fashioned ways. They became anthropologists, immersing themselves in foreign cultures and beliefs, sharing their intellectual passions along with their deep devotion to each other. After securing positions on the faculty in area schools—my mother at her alma mater, my father at Wellesley—they made research trips abroad and made a home for their new family in Cambridge.I have few memories of my childhood, but each one is vivid and surprisingly clear. All feature my parents: the feel of corduroy on my father’s elbows, the lily of the valley that scented my mother’s perfume, the clink of their wineglasses on Friday nights when they’d put me to bed and dine together by candlelight. My mother told me bedtime stories, and my father’s brown briefcase clattered when he dropped it by the front door. These memories would strike a familiar chord with most people.Other recollections of my parents would not. My mother never seemed to do laundry, but my clothes were always clean and neatly folded. Forgotten permission slips for field trips to the zoo appeared in my desk when the teacher came to collect them. And no matter what condition my father’s study was in when I went in for a good-night kiss (and it usually looked as if something had exploded), it was always perfectly orderly the next morning. In kindergarten I’d asked my friend Amanda’s mother why she bothered washing the dishes with soap and water when all you needed to do was stack them in the sink, snap your fingers, and whisper a few words. Mrs. Schmidt laughed at my strange idea of housework, but confusion had clouded her eyes.That night my parents told me we had to be careful about how we spoke about magic and with whom we discussed it. Humans outnumbered us and found our power frightening, my mother explained, and fear was the strongest force on earth. I hadn’t confessed at the time that magic—my mother’s especially—frightened me, too.By day my mother looked like every other kid’s mother in Cambridge: slightly unkempt, a bit disorganized, and perpetually harassed by the pressures of home and office. Her blond hair was fashionably tousled even though the clothes she wore remained stuck in 1977—long billowy skirts, oversize pants and shirts, and men’s vests and blazers she picked up in thrift stores the length and breadth of Boston in imitation of Annie Hall. Nothing would have made you look twice if you passed her in the street or stood behind her in the supermarket.In the privacy of our home, with the curtains drawn and the door locked, my mother became someone else. Her movements were confident and sure, not rushed and hectic. Sometimes she even seemed to float. As she went around the house, singing and picking up stuffed animals and books, her face slowly transformed into something otherworldly and beautiful. When my mother was lit up with magic, you couldn’t tear your eyes away from her.“Mommy’s got a firecracker inside her,” was the way my father explained it with his wide, indulgent grin. But firecrackers, I learned, were not simply bright and lively. They were unpredictable, and they could startle and frighten you, too.My father was at a lecture one night when my mother decided to clean the silver and became mesmerized by a bowl of water she’d set on the dining-room table. As she stared at the glassy surface, it became covered with a fog that twisted itself into tiny, ghostly shapes. I gasped with delight as they grew, filling the room with fantastic beings. Soon they were crawling up the drapes and clinging to the ceiling. I cried out for my mother’s help, but she remained intent on the water. Her concentration didn’t waver until something half human and half animal crept near and pinched my arm. That brought her out of her reveries, and she exploded into a shower of angry red light that beat back the wraiths and left an odor of singed feathers in the house. My father noticed the strange smell the moment he returned, his alarm evident. He found us huddled in bed together. At the sight of him, my mother burst into apologetic tears. I never felt entirely safe in the dining room again.Any remaining sense of security evaporated after I turned seven, when my mother and father went to Africa and didn’t come back alive.

From Our Editors

INDIGO RECOMMENDS: Diana Bishop is a witch. She's the last in a long line of witches; she hates that fact and chooses not to use her talents. Instead of conjuring up spells, she has become an academic and has tried hard to forget "the family business". One day while working in the Bodleian Library in Oxford she requests an old book on alchemy. When opened, it unleashes a great deal of power and brings witches, vampires and daemons flocking to Oxford. One of the arrivals is Matthew Clairmont, a charismatic geneticist who happens to be a vampire, with whom she forms an uneasy bond. Witches and vampires don't mix, and their friendship becomes very difficult and scandalizes their peers.Deborah Harkness' debut novel is a witch/vampire book with a difference and one which will appeal even to those who don't read or like the current fashion for supernatural books. The author is an academic herself, a historian who is interested in the history of alchemy. She's spent a great deal of time in university libraries and it shows in her fond descriptions of the Bodleian. She writes a wine blog which shows too; she knows her way 'round a wine list. Vampires eat infrequently but drink a great deal, so the knowledge is useful. She came up with idea for the book when she wondered what kinds of jobs vampires would have if they existed.There's some fascinating detail here about the history and folk law concerning the otherworldly, their uneasy co-existence with each other, and with the human world. It's also very funny in places, especially the description of the out-of-the-ordinary yoga class. A Discovery of Witches is highly recommended and the best news of all is that there will be a follow-up book.

Editorial Reviews

“A wonderfully imaginative grown-up fantasy with all the magic of Harry Potter or Twilight. . . . An irresistible tale of wizardry, science and forbidden love.” —People   “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.” —Entertainment Weekly   “Harkness conjures up a scintillating paranormal story. . . . Discover why everyone’s talking about this magical book.” —USA Today   “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.” —Miami Herald   “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.” —Chicago Tribune   “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.” —NPR