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A Discovery of Witches

(All Souls Trilogy #1)

by
3.99  ·  Rating details ·  285,550 ratings  ·  28,571 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 579 pages
Published February 2011 by Viking Penguin
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Dianne I enjoyed this a lot too so some of my other favorites are:

Sarah Maas - Throne of Glass series
^^My new favorite author and series!!
Sarah Maas - A…more
I enjoyed this a lot too so some of my other favorites are:

Sarah Maas - Throne of Glass series
^^My new favorite author and series!!
Sarah Maas - A Court of Thorns and Roses series
Ted Dekker/Tosca Lee - The Books of Mortals series
Phillip Pullman - His Dark Materials trilogy
Piers Anthony - Incarnations of Immortality series

I'm also big into mythology so all the Rick Riordan books are great and he's got Greek, Roman, and Egyptian covered! All very well written and the Greek actually do a few cross-overs into the Roman series so that was fun.(less)
Karen I only read before going to sleep...the first few chapters were a little slow...but finally got to the 5th chapter and now I wish I had more hours at…moreI only read before going to sleep...the first few chapters were a little slow...but finally got to the 5th chapter and now I wish I had more hours at night to read...to answer your question, it's not a YA...but it's not disappointing either.(less)

Community Reviews

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Squee
Sep 27, 2011 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Jenne
May 10, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy
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
Sasha Alsberg
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Sorry Bronze Horseman, A Discovery of Witches has taken the #2 spot for my favorite book <3
Catie
Apr 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Arni Vidar Bjorgvinsson
Apr 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, amazon
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
kari
Apr 19, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
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
veganjilly
Apr 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fiction
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
Feb 14, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
Anne
2.5 stars

Hmmm. At first, I really thought this was going to be at least a 4 star book. It was interesting and full of detail!

description

Then suddenly, it wasn't.
Wasn't interesting, that is. Oh, it was still full of detail, don't worry.
Details about how they appreciatively sniffed wine.

description

Details about different kinds of tea.

description

Details about the layouts of old buildings.
Details about rugs and furniture.

description

And just when I started to think I couldn't take it anymore...MORE WINE AND TEA!

description

description

Yes, yes! I get it! She likes
...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
Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads-no-more
Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

This book.

Have you ever liked something almost against your will? Something that encompasses roughly half of the things you hate in reference to said thing? Something that makes you scratch your head in wonder, b/c you can’t figure out why on earth you aren’t terribly bothered by those detested things in this situation?

Welcome to my life.

This book has:

1. What can be construed as insta-love. Matthew and Diana are drawn to each other from the moment they meet, BUT it’s so s
...more
Amanda
Feb 16, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Absolutely no one.
Recommended to Amanda by: Carol.
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
seak
Nov 06, 2012 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: your worst enemy?
Shelves: 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
Bradley
Re-Read 12/15/17:

Beyond what I said in my original review, I really enjoyed all the interwoven devices that carry all the way through all three books. I knew I'd enjoy a re-read even as I finished the third book since there are so many great historical details as well as more developed characters, later on, but I think I may have enjoyed this novel more this time around purely for its own sake.

Just knowing what happens at the end and where Diana winds up is good enough to chortle over, all by it
...more
mark monday
Nov 06, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
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
Apr 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
[In the interests of full disclosure, I edited this review in September 2018. Upon reflection, some of my initial comments were a little too fangirl in style and my initial reference to Twilight was being misconstrued or used to make a point.. After many years and quite a few rereadings of this book, my enthusiasm for it has not waned, but I can appreciate why it troubles some readers. I believe one can be a thinking, modern and independent woman and yet still appreciate a male character who pos ...more
Shreya (☆High Lady of The Night Court☆)
"It begins with absence and desire.
It begins with blood and fear.
It begins with a discovery of witches."


This trilogy is like no other paranormal book I’ve ever read. The world is huge and the author not only takes us around the world but also tells us about its history through the Book of Life. The protagonist of the story has distanced herself from her magic and any other supernatural concept in the world after she lost her parents as a child. The protagonist’s lack of knowledge allows the r
...more
Melanie
Let me preface this review with me saying that this is my personal opinion. I know this book is very beloved by very many, and that’s awesome. Nothing makes me happier than books making people happy, and if A Discovery of Witches is your favorite book, than I am truly happy for you. Unfortunately, this book just didn’t work for me.

Nothing offended me or anything like that, this book was just ungodly boring. I mean, there is a very alpha vampire in here that marks his territory and claims what h
...more
Carol.
Mar 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: PNR readers
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
Bookdragon Sean
This could have been a great book.

The series has a lot going for it. The author has achieved a perfect level of magic combined with mystery and academia.

Sounds strange doesn’t it?

But this is very much in a similar vein to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The characters explore libraries (yay libraries!) to gain knowledge about the supernatural. The protagonist comes across a very unusual book, a book of magic. The tension is here very early on, the narrative drive is here very on, though it all goe
...more
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
I read this book back in 2011. I marked it five stars. I put it on my favorites list.
I'm hunting 2011 Shelby down to kick her ass.


I wanted so much to enjoy this. I'm reading it with some of the bestest people..I just give up. The wording..the insta love..the clueless female.

Just can't. I sorry.


Book you got kicked off the favorite list.
Steve L
Mar 08, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
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
Lucia
UPDATE AUGUST 2016:
This was my 4th time reading this book and I enjoyed it more than ever! No doubts about this being my most favorite paranormal story of all times.

My Diana and Matthew:

“It begins with absence and desire.
It begins with blood and fear.
It begins with a discovery of witches."

I am not exaggerating when I say that this is the most fascinating paranormal story I have ever read in my life.

Discovery of Witches is splendid combination of history, science, romance and action. This book
...more
Barbara
Feb 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Darth J
Original Rating: 5 Stars
Re-read Rating: 3.5 Stars


We find our protagonist, Diana Bishop, in the Selden End of the Bodleian Library researching alchemy. As a witch, she is trying to find a root to the three magical races (with the other two being daemons and vampires). In walks Matthew Clairmont, vampire and obvious love interest, who is also a scientist studying blood stuffs (obviously).


I’ll be honest; both times I skipped over the romance aspects of this book because that stuff just doesn’t int
...more
Sylvain Reynard
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This novel is a masterpiece.
It's tempting to compare it to other works so as to characterize it but to do so would be a disservice.
Prof. Harkness writes well and her story-telling is engaging and suspenseful. She masterfully weaves together history, science, alchemy, illuminated manuscripts, love, sex, war, and family dynamics.
You'll enjoy this novel and then you'll be eager for the sequel.
Highly recommended.
SR.
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17,919 followers
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

Other books in the series

All Souls Trilogy (3 books)
  • Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2)
  • The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy, #3)
“Just because something seems impossible doesn’t make it untrue,” 293 likes
“As fast as I can tell there are only two emotions that keep the world spinning year after year...One is fear. The other is desire.” 235 likes
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