A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)
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A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1)

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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  135,292 ratings  ·  17,429 reviews
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...more
Hardcover, 579 pages
Published February 2011 by Viking Penguin
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jenne
okay, so the good things: I liked the world/mythology/etc, and was amused by the Anne Rice reference! And I also liked the subtle pro-gay marriage message.
It could have actually been a lot of fun except for the romance part, which went like this: (SPOILERS!)


Diana: I am exceptionally good at being a historian of science, and I even have a job at Yale! I am also a witch, but I don't use my powers. Much.
Gosh this mysterious manuscript sure is mysterious!

Matthew: I AM TALL. I WENT THROUGH YOUR PAPE...more
Kristina
This is an odd book. Now that I have finished reading it, I'm not sure why I was so enamored of it. With so much discussion of spells and enchantment, I wouldn't be surprised if the book put a spell on me. Despite overall enjoying the book, there are still lots of things about it that irritated me. First, the author needed a better editor. I am finding more often that books surrounded by a certain amount of hype are not well-edited. I don't know if the editors think that every word the author wr...more
Squee
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Arni Vidar Bjorgvinsson
It's quite difficult to gather my thoughts well enough to manage a review. I don't know how or where to begin.

I started this book 4 evenings ago, and all I really knew about it was that it was a Witches and Vampires book. Fine, I'll give that a go. As the pages wore on, however, I realized that I was barely making any headway on the % counter. Upon checking, I then found that this book is almost 800 pages long, which is more than almost all of my fantasy DTB's. Wow.

I started reading this book ju...more
Catie
This book kept me hanging on just enough to stop me from abandoning it. I’m not really sure who this book is aimed at; it’s a very pedestrian, traditional romance wrapped up in a nearly 600 page, painfully slow tale filled with history and science. It’s a bit like a Hallmark card wrapped up in an encyclopedia. The history and science buffs will be turned off by the cheesy center, and the romance lovers will resent having to wade through pages of endless description and detail just to get to the...more
kari
THIS IS ACTUALLY ZERO stars, but it won't be listed if I put zero, so, just so you know - ZERO!.
I thought this was going to be a really entertaining read, but I'm giving up. The main character makes no sense, whatsoever. We're told that she isn't able to do magic and then she does magic. Huh???
And then we have the vampire sneaking in her window and watching her sleep, fascinated by her sleeping. Where have I read this before? Let's see....... can anyone think of where they might have read this?...more
Jill
HOLY. FREAKING. CRAP. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I just finished this book last night, and I was blown away by it. This is easily going to be the best book that I will read this year, and is going in my top 10 list of best fiction books of all time! Excellent fiction is not always easy to come by. I don't mind mediocre reads from time to time, but it is SO GREAT to be totally stunned by an indescribably excellent book every once in awhile!

For one thing, this book is so well-written. The author...more
Kat  Hooper
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Dr. Diana Bishop, descendant of the famous Bridget Bishop of Salem, Massachusetts, turned her back on her natural powers after her parents were killed when she was a child. Instead, she relied on her brain power, went to Oxford and Yale, and became a well-known researcher in the field of history of science. Now she’s back at Oxford, spending the year studying old alchemical texts archived at the Bodleian Library. But when she calls the book known as Ashmol...more
Sarah Kelsey
Well well, Mary Sue, Mary Sue, Mary Sue. I haven't encountered you for a few books. Now I know where you've been keeping yourself.
-------
Updated: March 3, 2011.

I struggled to finish this novel. The book started out so well with an interesting protagonist, a bibliophile's dream setting, and wonderful descriptions of illustrated manuscripts. The plot tugs at the small thread of 'paranormalcy' in the protagonist's life, and everything goes south from there. Literally south. They leave England and g...more
Kelsey
First of all, I thought this book was fantastic and I CANNOT wait for the second in the series because the ending of the book, I won't give details, has you CONSTANTLY WONDERING and yearning for more.
Though it doesn't beat the Harry Potter series (and nothing ever will), it sure is up there in the running with my favorites. Have I found a new series after Potter? Well, I won't get too carried away, but this book is one of my favorites.

I have only two complaints about this book.
My first compla...more
Anne
Even now, a few weeks later, and when some of the details have become a little fuzzy, I can't stop thinking about this book. I love many different genres of books, but books like this really get me excited; they take me out of myself, to a world that my rational brain tells me doesn't exist, but which my heart whispers could be right under my nose.

I stayed up until after 1am two nights in a row to read more of this book and was even almost late back to work at lunchtime, because I was so complet...more
Nataliya
For mere two bucks I rescued this book from a dusty shelf of a local Goodwill store, adopting it with high hopes.

For free, I returned it to the same shelf a few weeks later with dejected feeling, sandwiching it between a rejected copy of 'Twilight' and a tattered paperback with a shirtless guy on the cover.

At least it found its rightful spot. And I'm out only two dollars. And I would have gladly paid more to free my own bookshelf of this book.

So it goes.


My books mercilessly rejected the intrude...more
Seak (Bryce L.)
Jan 19, 2013 Seak (Bryce L.) rated it 1 of 5 stars Recommends it for: your worst enemy?
Shelves: not-a-fan, dnf
I tried really hard, but wow this book was boring. I think it reminded me way too much of The Historian, which was the biggest waste of 900+ pages I've ever read. I think it's because I've done way too much academic research in my 20 years of schooling to ever find it remotely entertaining.

I think the part where the witches, vampires, demons, etc. do yoga together pretty much killed it for me.



(Okay, it's probably more of a calm indifference, but had I wasted any more time this would be more fitt...more
Barbara
Deborah Harkness' debut novel, A Discovery of Witches: A Novel, is amazing. I was drawn in from the first and did not want to put it down. It's like a mature Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1) meets The Da Vinci Code. The characters are interesting and complex, the story is exciting without being too ambitious or overcomplicated. The book held me spellbound and is responsible for a few hours of lost sleep. It's an historical-supernatural-romance-adventure-mystery--my favorite genres wrapped in...more
mark monday
my gosh, i really wanted to like this one. it looks good. it is nice and big and so i imagined getting lost with it for days. the subject matter is enticing. even the cover looks appealing - elegant and mysterious and sorta bold. but unfortunately this book is just a big, perpetually flaccid penis. it looks good, like it could be a fun time, but nothing is happening, it's limp, it's useless.

hmmm, where do i even start? this was an experience where a lot of bored sighs found life. i got about hal...more
Suzanne (Doppleganger)
A Discovery of Witches is a vampire romance. Let me say that again. A Discovery of Witches is a Vampire Romance.

Oh sure the title mentions ‘witches’ instead of ‘vampires’ or other vampire clichés like blood, darkness, or night. It has witchy symbols on the cover and the synopsis calls it “equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense”. But don’t be deceived, this is a vampire romance.

If you don’t like vampire romances, then this book is not for you.

You say you like vampire romances? So do...more
Carol. [All cynic, all the time]

Redeemed only through a nice use of language.

Initial assessment: Harlequin romance meets Twilight. Most irritating similarity to Twilight: they discover all sorts of ways to be physically intimate without intercourse. Annoyingest magical quality: a witch that claims she doesn't want to use her powers and has spent yeeeears attempting to ignore her powers, "slips up" and uses said powers to get a book that's out of reach on a high shelf. Yes, that's how strong her moral determination is--looking...more
Amanda
Feb 06, 2014 Amanda rated it 1 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Absolutely no one.
Recommended to Amanda by: Carol. [All cynic, all the time]
In A Discovery of Witches, we clueless humans have no idea that we share our world with witches, vampires and daemons (creatures whose manic bursts of creativity result in some of the world's greatest artistic works). Isn't that exciting? One would certainly think so. So, what kind of shenanigans does this preternatural lot get up to while we live our ordinary lives?

Well . . .

Behold the books that shall be read! Thrill to the revelation that trips to the library will be made time and time again...more
RJ
I had a hard time deciding how to rate this book. The plot moved beautifully, and the author has clearly put a load of effort into researching many different worlds. This book has that particular quality that makes you want to finish it all in one go.
The biggest problem I had was with the main character- Diana Bishop.
She starts out as an admirable, independent woman, entirely capable of making her own decisions and standing her ground. Unfortunately, by the time the book ends, she's turned into...more
UniquelyMoi ... So I Can Shine...

A Discovery of Witches is the first book in the All Souls Trilogy, and Deborah Harkness's debut novel. It’s a unique story that subtly brings together and addresses many of today’s cultural and societal issues, as they pertain to the All Souls Trilogy world, without beating the reader about the head with messages of political correctness. In fact, the story is so fun, so well written and meaningful that by the time I was through I was left wishing I had the next book right here in my hot little...more
Rebecca
I picked this up because it got a great review in "Entertainment Weekly". Thank God I didn't spend any money on it but borrowed it from the library.

I'm on page 150 now and still waiting for the action to begin. Diana is a powerful witch who refuses to use magic. She discovers a spellbound book on alchemy which she sends back to the stacks of the Oxford library without a second thought until a large group of fellow witches, daemons and vampires show up to stalk her over it. Matthew is the most po...more
Carolyn (Book Chick City)
I gave this 7/10 on my blog: Book Chick City

'A Discovery of Witches' is an incredibly atmospheric novel where each page is full of lavish detail that was obviously painstakingly researched. It's a huge book, which took me a long time to finish compared to other paranormal romances. This is due somewhat to the large amount of detail, but it is no reflection on the quality of writing, which is wonderful.

Each sentence has been lovingly crafted and although this isn't a quick read by any means, each...more
Angie
May 16, 2011 Angie rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: epubs
I hate saying this... but man I did not like this book. I wanted to like it. I really did. So many people love love this book. I tried so hard to like it. But it just was a grown up twilight for me. It was slow to me. I loved the idea of the book. Witches, Vampires, Deamons! But there was just so much detail. What wine are you drinking, what does it taste like, what does it smell like? Ughhh if I had to read about wine again I might have thrown my book across the room, but since I was reading on...more
Laura
Thank goodness I'm finally finished with this book! It's taken me nearly two weeks to trudge my way through it.

The only reason I kept reading was that I thought something eventually would have to happen. And something finally did at about page 400. And even then, what happened was lame.

I've never read such a long book with so little plot. The main character went to yoga, ate a lot of meals, drank a lot of wine, rowed, went to the library and made out with a vampire. That's about it. There were p...more
Adi (Reading in the Windowseat)
Absolutely Loved It!

Though I have found books in various genres that have made me feel that exquisite thrill of reading something you positively adore and it somehow clicks inside of you a level of pleasure other books cannot, I hadn't had a read that so completely enthralled me as this one did for a very long time. Forgetting genres. Forgetting age-orientation. Forgetting style.

I loved it thoroughly!

The story was just my type, full of mystery and tragedy, of drama and irony. It is a tale in w...more
Steve L
A Discovery of a Crappy Book. This book is terrible. Why oh why were the stupid witches discovered. Here is the plot:

Day One.

I went to the library. I am a witch; he is a vampire. I shouldn't love him. But he is so cold and I am so hot for him. I had lunch and did some yoga.

Day Two.

I went to the library. Some people may or may not have been there, and they may or may not have been magical. I am a witch; he is a vampire. I shouldn't love him. But he is so cold and I am so hot for him. I had lunch...more
Blythe
Eight of my friends gave this book five stars.
Ten gave it four stars.
Three gave it three stars.
No one gave it less than three stars.

Then there's me, giving this book two stars. The only explanation? I'm weird. There's not much I can say about this book, not in fear of spoiling something (honestly, I don't think there's much to spoil), but because nothing really happened, and I suppose that is my reason enough for not liking this book as I had hoped I would.

Similar to Hereafter, A Discovery o...more
Amy
Oh, god, this is part of a trilogy? I can't even finish it. I've made it through 400-something pages. I made up a new award just for this book: The Most Pretentious and Boring Vampire Novel of All Time. This novel sounded like just my thing. Vampires, witches, history, alchemy, libraries. And it's very long and I love long novels! It should have been awesome. It should have been at least readable. Instead, it is a chronicle of the main character's naps. I'm serious. It really is. I'm usually not...more
Maia B.
Oh, man, does this book need an editor.

It's almost six hundred pages, with too much tea, a lot of really stupid "romance", and no real climax. The heroine drinks so much tea and wine that I wouldn't be surprised if five thousand words weren't simply descriptions of her consumption. She also jogs, rows, and does yoga - there are maybe twenty pages devoted simply to her yoga classes, which have nothing - that's NOTHING - to do with the plot.

Here's a condensed version.

DIANA: I'm a witch who doesn't...more
Monique
If this book doesn't have a sequel, I'm going to hit the ceiling. Because otherwise, reading Deborah Harkness'debut fiction novel would mean a complete waste of time.

But first, the things I love about the book.

I developed a certain fascination for the occult since reading Anne Rice's "Vampire Chronicles" and "Lives of the Mayfair Witches", although I wouldn't exactly say I'm a believer, and I'm definitely no practitioner. There's just something romantic in reading about the preternatural -- vam...more
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3849415
My life has been a series of left turns that nevertheless took me in the right direction (though it didn't always seem so at the time). I went to college to be a theater major and ended up studying the Renaissance. I went to grad school to become a college administrator and loved to teach so much I became a college professor instead. I thought I wanted to be a Tudor-Stuart historian, and found mys...more
More about Deborah Harkness...
Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2) A Discovery of Witches Vol. 2 of 2 The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy, #3) A Discovery of Witches Vol. 1 of 2 John Dee's Conversations with Angels: Cabala, Alchemy, and the End of Nature

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“Just because something seems impossible doesn’t make it untrue,” 143 likes
“Yes, I see that you are behaving like a prince but that doesn't mean you won't behave like a devil at the first opportunity.” 103 likes
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