An epic, richly inventive, historically sweeping, magical romance.
When historian Diana Bishop opens an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it's an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life. Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent death of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft. Now Diana has unwittingly exposed herself to a world she's kept at bay for years: one of powerful witches, creative, destructive daemons, and long-lived vampires.
Sensing the significance of Diana's discovery, the creatures gather in Oxford, among them the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire genticist. Diana is inexplicably drawn to Matthew and, in a shadowy world of half-truths and old enmities, ties herself to him without fully understanding the ancient line they are crossing.
As they begin to unlock the secrets of the manuscript and their feelings for each other deepen, so the fragile balance of peace unravels....
©2011 Deborah Harkness (P)2011 Deborah Harkness
"Intelligent and off-the-wall, it will be irresistible to Twilight fans." (The Sunday Times)
"Write what you know, debut novelists are told and Professor Deborah Harkness has accordingly set hers in the world of academia…. A bubbling cauldron of illicit desire…. all the ingredients for an assured saga that blends romance with fantasy." (Daily Mail)
"A romp through magical academia." (Guardian)
Yes, the story is fun and I liked the mystery, even if the writing wasn't particularly good.
A bit like Twilight for the scholarly type. The comparison is a bit unfair bc in general I think this book is better written than Twilight, but it does share the whole vampire-stud motif (although Matthew is a much more complex and real character than Edward Cullen).
Matthew, just to hear his life story
Any Oxford student, tutor, or alumni would cringe at how Harkness likes to just drop in place names for no apparent reason. And the narrator, Ikeda, mispronounces Magdalen (the first clue for an Oxford outsider). Although as a former member of New College, I did like that my college was showcased so prominently.
A Discovery of Witches contains the outline of an interesting story but desperately needs a ruthless editor. The plot has definite potential. I found Elias Ashmole and the manuscript Ashmole 782 really interesting and I loved the house where Diana's Aunt Sarah lived. However, in the end A Discovery of Witches becomes quite simply a romance (and not even a very good one). It is repetitive, at times boring, frequently annoying and full of cliches. And yet ... I kept listening (the narrator is very good). I hoped it would get better. It never did. I'm almost embarrassed to admit I felt compelled to read the next book. I think I gave Harkness a second chance because I was still interested in the world that she was trying to create. Unfortunately, the second in this trilogy (Shadow of Night) was also a book of lost potential. I won't be trying the third.
Intelligent writing, thoroughly researched yet keeping a constant pace through the story.
Perhaps some of the Diana Gabaldon books may come close.
I loved the scenes in the Bodleian, so much tension amongst those dusty tomes in the sphere of academe!
Matthew for sure. He'd be educational and sexy at the same time, what a combination!
This is a class act and it was a pleasure to hear it read by a reader with such a gift for appreciating the prose.
Avid audio book listener who has recently become a Kindle addict!!
It wasn't just about vampiral sexual exploits which made a nice difference.
Most of it was good although I liked it when Dianna fell into Mathews arms at the library for the first time.
This is one of the best audio books I've listened to. Second only to the True Blood series for content and performance by the narrator.
I enjoyed the premise of the story - a story about a historian and witch who doesn't want to use her (immense) powers meets enigmatic vampire and sets about changing supernatural laws whilst trying to discover the whereabouts of an important manuscript that could change all of their lives forever.
Characters are interesting - storyline is intruiging and even though it can be a little predicable in places, it's unusual enough the rest of the time to keep your interest.
Best part about this story so far though is the awesome narration. The narrator is an amazing actor and does flawless accents (including English and French!) which really adds depth and flavour to the book.
Really, really enjoyable to listen to! I recommend this book and am looking forward to listening to the sequel.
My favourite character so far is, strangely, Isabeau. Small part (as yet) but I just loved the accented characterisation.
The most memorable character for me is definitely the protagonist, Diana. As the story develops and she discovers more and more about her powers, she becomes more interesting. She's feisty, independent, very intelligent and a very powerful witch. In a supernatural story, it doesn't get much better.
Love the book and looking forward to the next installment. Read it. It's lots of fun!
Hot romance/Sci Fi we're so lucky to have Audible to feed our book addictions. I love walking my precious dog Sydney & listening to my books
This was a very enjoyable and gripping listen. The story is captivating and keeps you in it's grips. The characters are addictive and added perfectly. The narrator does an excellent job with her soothing smooth voice and portrays all characters very well. I am of to read the next in this stimulating series. Thanks Deborah, a fabulous job all round :)
I quite enjoyed this book, but I really wish I'd known it only begins the story! The character development was well done with the exception of Matthew, who I found a little too unrealistic, but it was fun nonetheless because let's face it, us girls love a ridiculously unrealistic romantic lead - romance *is* escapism after all ;) I'm assuming this is part of a series, although it isn't listed as such. Frustrating - I love wading through long series, but I prefer to know before I begin. Sort of spoiled an otherwise enjoyable listen, so I figured I'd review this to let people know (without spoilers) that this is just part one of a story. If this is all there is, I must say I'll be deeply disappointed.
I just couldn't stop reading this book. It is such a combination of a love story & history that I found it very intriguing. Add in the supernatural and you really have a winner. I really hope that there is going to be a follow up novel because I would really like this story to continue. Loved the combination of Diana & Matthew.
I could only sit through a little bit
a different person
I didnt listen to all of it so I couldnt choose
"So much more than a romance..."
I don't think people are giving this enough credit.
Contrary to other reviews, I didn't think the plot was slow to develop at all, the story gripped me from the very first pages. Diana, the main character is smart and sensible. Her thoughts and actions are very well explained, which makes her a very believable character. Her romance with the vampire is believable and follows many conventional patterns that normal humans go through which makes us able to relate to the relationship.
While the plot follows the out of the frying pan into the fire pattern, the problems slowly resolve themselves, as is life. We don't solve one problem before the next disaster strikes. While there is no final resolution in the book it is a good opener for the series. We know who all the key players are, we have motivations for most of their actions and we can get a clue at where the series is leading. The book stops at an ideal place to keep the reader interested, even though no firm resolution has been reached in this book. Information slowly presents itself throughout the novel in a believable manner.
The author did a fantastic job of presenting subjects such as alchemy, genetics in a believable manner and tied them into the book brilliantly. If you like a more academic twist to your fantasy books, this is the perfect book for you!
Suspend all disbelief and only buy this book if you want to get swept away in a very long story with no conclusive ending.Having said all of that it is a fun listen. Think a saucier version of Twilight.
"A 24 hour long overture."
On the positive side: The characters are quite good and after the book was finished I was actually quite interested to know what happened to them
On the negative side: As other's have said NOTHING HAPPENS. It's basically a 24 hour scene setting for the next book. When it stopped I immediately checked my library as I thought I hadn't downloaded the final part. Unfortunately as I've given up 24 hours listening to the intro it's very likely that I'll listen to the next one whenever it comes out as it can't surely be as slow as this one. Can it?
My wife is listening to it now and she has exactly the same comments. 18 hours in and still waiting for it to 'start'.
Should compress all this in the first 3 hours then write the rest of a decent book.
Plus the *worst* scottish accent I've ever heard that nearly ruined the book for me.
In summary: 3 hours of action spread across 24 hours, but if you make it to the end, you'll probably want to read the next one whenever it appears.
"Witches and Vampires for Grown Ups"
Dark, exciting, gripping
The twists and turns in the story. Never quite knowing if you could trust the main character, Matthew, but wanting to like him at the same time. The darkness of the story was balanced well with humorous parts.
She has a very expressive voice which gave depth to the characters.
Think you know everything about vampires, witches and demons....think again
Yes I would because it was amazing
Matthew and Diana. Is such a lovely story that keeps you gripe.
No not yet but I will be doing on the next book.
It made my heart beat faster and sometimes laugh.
A must read
"Complex & compelling academic vampire story."
Detailed, descriptive, compelling
When Diana realises that she can conjure witchwater.
When Diana talks to her mother and father whilst trapped.
Yes many. I gasped, cried, smiled and desired more.
The great thing is it is part of a trilogy but I am growing restless awaiting the release of the final part.
"Oh dear - over long, overwritten and repetitive"
Such a shame, the ideas are interesting and inventive, but the author does not have the skills or language to carry it off so falls back on endlessly repeating the same phrases and situations....resulting in a book which is about 3 times longer than it should be and boring for most of the time. The narrator is quite good but overly ambitious with accents which she cannot handle.
"Only for a certain type of listener (not me)"
So I never review audiobooks until now. I suppose it's very British to only complain when unhappy and not to praise a good experience. Anyway I digress.
The main character in this book is a girl, who meets a guy (vampire) fairly early on in the book and proceeds to increasingly swoon and kiss her way through the rest of the book, with various people worried for her while she struggles to unlock her inner power, etc. Quite run-of-the-mill stuff and nothing at all surprising.
That said, it's well read - I can't find fault with that aspect of it.
If you like hearing about the (IMO fairly predictable) heart-felt yearnings of a young girl then this book is right up your street. Personlly I like a bit more Walking Dead and a bit less Twilight, so won't be contonuing the series and will avoid this author in future.
Less passionate kissing
The voices were good, accents fairly reliable.
Most of the kissing and swooning stuff
Not for me, but by no means actually bad. Teen girls will love it, doubtless
"Mills and Boon with vampires"
Ok, so to be fair I've never actually read an M&B novel, but that's the best way I can sum it up. Started out with an interesting premise and a strong and capable tea obsessed female protagonist, but as others have said, she dissolves into a swooning wimp as soon as the vampire shows up. Nothing much happens and it's all a bit dull. Won't be bothering with the rest of the series.
"Historical Romance with Bite"
I first read and then listened to this book. It works on many levels. It fulfils the criteria of vampire romance but with a main female character who has strength and powers of her own. She does not need to become vampire and is accomplished academic rather than mooning teenager. It also uses the genre to explore history and culture across continents and millennia. Histories of literature, science, alchemy and faith are interwoven with modern genetics and exploration of prejudice. Sometimes the detail becomes too ponderous and I find many of the ensemble of diverse characters more complex and intriguing than the main male character. However, this is generally well crafted and well-performed writing.
I also like a long read / listen I can get my teeth into, or escape into while I commute or do housework etc. I returned to this work because, even after knowing the outcome (so far) diluted the suspense and romance, other layers of story, characters, time and place still unfold. It is, like the Bodleian Library the story opens in, full of journeys of thought and imagination.
It is rather long to listen to in one sitting.
I've listened to the sequel, which is almost as good and have the final in the trilogy on pre-order.
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