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A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1)

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  243,115 Ratings  ·  24,728 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
Hardcover, 579 pages
Published February 2011 by Viking Penguin
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Lynn Try The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss or Codex Alera by Jim Butcher. They are both fantasy, with a bit of 'magic' mixed in. No witches or…moreTry The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss or Codex Alera by Jim Butcher. They are both fantasy, with a bit of 'magic' mixed in. No witches or vampires though.(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 answer your question, it's not a YA...but it's not disappointing either.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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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
May 10, 2011 Jenne 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!

Sasha Alsberg
Feb 11, 2017 Sasha Alsberg rated it it was amazing
Sorry Bronze Horseman, A Discovery of Witches has taken the #2 spot for my favorite book <3
Sep 27, 2011 Squee rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 02, 2011 Catie 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 Arni Vidar Bjorgvinsson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
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
Apr 19, 2011 kari 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?
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
Apr 13, 2011 veganjilly rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, favorites
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
Kat  Hooper
Feb 14, 2011 Kat Hooper 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
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
Nov 06, 2012 seak 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
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
Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads
3/13/17 - ON SALE for $1.99:

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
Apr 12, 2011 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 16, 2011 Amanda 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
mark monday
Nov 06, 2011 mark monday 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
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
Feb 19, 2011 Barbara 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
Mar 19, 2011 Carol. 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
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
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
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 Steve L 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
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!
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.
Details about different kinds of tea.
Details about the layouts of old buildings.
Details about rugs and furniture.
And just when I started to think I couldn't take it anymore...MORE WINE AND TEA!
Yes, yes! I get it! She likes
Feb 09, 2011 RJ rated it it was ok
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
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
The following picture shows how I feel about A Discovery of Witches as a whole:


I want to like this book, the concepts and the magic system are bold, refreshing and awesome, but sadly awesome concepts cannot save a book from:

(1) Mary Sue main characters. And I'm talking about a Mary Sue who can easily put Bella Swan from Twilight into total shame...

Meet Diana Bishop, a history professor and leading expert of ancient texts, she was born to a pair of
Dec 05, 2014 Brad rated it it was amazing
What a surprising find. Sure, I expected a decent urban fantasy, but I hadn't expected a tome redolent of history, alchemy, and even Templar conspiracies. In retrospect, I wish that all urban fantasy novels had more history and alchemy and Templar conspiracies. The past is rich and full of just as much intrigue as anything we've got today, after all, and denying the fact won't make so many modern novels better.

It's true that I expected a novel with a scholarly feel, and it's equally true that I
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.

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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...

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)

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“Just because something seems impossible doesn’t make it untrue,” 226 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.” 162 likes
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