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A Discovery of Witches | [Deborah Harkness]

A Discovery of Witches

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2011 Deborah Harkness (P)2011 Penguin

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4.2 (10516 )
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  •  
    danni Sointula, BC, Canada 06-06-11
    danni Sointula, BC, Canada 06-06-11 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
    ratings
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    24
    21
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    1
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    Overall
    "This is a terrible book"

    I'm no snob, I read si-fi and fantasy and crime... but this is just terrible.
    Why has it been on the best seller's list at all?
    Best thing about it, it could put me to sleep.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    cora23 PA, United States 06-01-11
    cora23 PA, United States 06-01-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    10
    3
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    "Terrible"

    This is literally the only audiobook I've never finished. The plot was contrived at best, and I absolutely couldn't stand Diana during most parts of this novel. There were many instances where the author went on and on in excruciating detail about a rug or a style of architecture that really had no relevance. I wouldn't recommend this at all.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aldenob 06-01-11
    Aldenob 06-01-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    8
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    "Intelligent and compelling fdespite the vampires"

    I was drawn into this book despite my vehement dislike of the current fad for vampire stories. Can't stand 'em, can't understand the obsession so many seem to have. But I'm glad I perservered with this after realizing its main characters were a witch and a vampire. The history-mystery aspect attracted me, and when that part of the story was occasionally eclipsed by the characters' development (and that of their romance), that was fine because their story drew me in; I cared more about these characters (can one call a witch and a vampire people?) than I have about any fictional characters in a while. That said, the book has flaws--there are parts of the book during which the plot proceeds very slowly, and the mystery's progress is halted for quite a while. Not all the rules of the creatures' behavior and world are clear or seemingly consistent; perhaps later books in the (trilogy?) will explain. Still, I can't wait til the next book comes out so I can find out more. As for the reading, the narrator is a good actor and pleasant to listen to, and if her accents weren't always perfect, they were always reasonably believable--and there were a lot to master (Australian, Irish, Scots, English, American...have I missed any?). Till the next volume comes out I'll be reading up on the historical background to the mystery--that's how compelling it all is.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Coker 05-31-11
    K. Coker 05-31-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    261
    7
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    3
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    Overall
    "The middle was boring"

    At first I thought this was going to be a mystery and a good one at that but then it turned to romance which surprised me and was not all together believable. The middle section of the book, the main character changes from intelligent and willful to dependent on her man. I got interested in the book again when the pace picked up and was more focused on an outcome rather than a semi believable romance. The book ends just as it was getting really good, even though I was irritated it took so long to be as good as it promised to be in the beginning, I will listen to the next in the series.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martha Cypress, CA, United States 05-29-11
    Martha Cypress, CA, United States 05-29-11 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
    ratings
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    259
    32
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    "I felt a bit cheated"

    The promise of this book is great, but when the best parts come in the last few hours of a 24 hour narration, that should tell you something. I felt like I've been set up for a sequel when the whole story could have been told in one book. I also agree with some other reviews that this is nowhere near a romantic fiction book, in that there is no sex. At all. Sorry for the spoiler but I expect some sexual tension in a book that purports to explore the passion between a witch and a vamp, and it just wasn't there. The woman was annoying and whiney and the vampire was wimpy and boring. I won't be looking to a sequel because it should have all been done here. That's 24 hours of listening time that could have been better spent. It gets three stars because I liked some of the supporting characters and the interesting Bishop house.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Sneed Fort Belvoir, VA, United States 05-28-11
    C. Sneed Fort Belvoir, VA, United States 05-28-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    27
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    37
    19
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    "terrific book"

    Wonderful novel. Can't wait to read the next one. Incredible ending that opens endless possibilities for where this story could go. Would have five stars if Diana didn't come across so whiny (unlikely for someone with her credentials) at times. The time spent in the library got a bit excessive. Still, I will listen to this one again and again.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kim Huntington, IN, United States 05-20-11
    Kim Huntington, IN, United States 05-20-11 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    18
    6
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    1
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    "Incredible audio book!"

    I wanted to read this book on my Kindle but the price was too high so I opted for audio. I am so pleased I did! Jennifer Ikeda performed the book flawlessly giving each character believable accents and voices. I really enjoyed this book a great deal and found myself crushed when it was finished. Here's hoping Jennifer reprises her role as narrator on the next installment!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Benjamin San Jose, CA, United States 05-20-11
    Benjamin San Jose, CA, United States 05-20-11 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    1
    Overall
    "Blew me away!"

    I resisted picking this one up for a while now. I had bought some extra credits at a discount, so I had them to blow when I decided to grab it. After listening to several spy books in a row, I decided I wanted to give something else a try. Craving a longer read (listen ;) I clicked on this book.

    OMG OMG OMG - I WAS HOOKED INSTANTLY : D

    I love alchemy, witches, old libraries - so the first few paragraphs welcomed me right in... then it was vampires and magic and demons and secret societies and evolutionary revolutions... I never imagined that stumbling onto this book would draw me in so fast and then completely, much less have me listening into the night - falling asleep with the buds still in my ears. Then after listening for hours to realize this was NOT contained to one book BUT THREE. I was appalled LOL. And simultaneously thrilled; I would get to spend much more time in this extensive universe that is wondrously imagined and incredibly well written.

    Thanks for the GREAT read - I can barely wait for the follow ups - bring them on as fast as possible without giving up the quality! btr

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe 05-19-11
    Joe 05-19-11 Member Since 2010
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    56
    1
    Overall
    "Enjoyable but...."

    I have to say I enjoyed ths book. It is a relaxing and enjoyable read being a love story between a somewhat helpless female and her protective vampire. I particularly enjoyed all the detailed description and the creature characters. I hear there will be a couple more books. I will be waiting to carry on with the characters. I do hate to feel left hanging............

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William 05-19-11
    William 05-19-11 Member Since 2013

    Life long learner of all sorts of things.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A fun romp in fantasy."

    To be honest, I found myself laughing in several places, angry in others, wanting to enter the world that was created by the author and grateful not to be in in the situations the characters found themselves in at times. The listener is in good hands with this author and the narrator did a fantastic job. Pros? Several. Clever, fun, great visuals, emotional ups and downs, twists and turns and characters that are enjoyable. Also, being a male, I am not a huge fan of romance per say, but this was VERY well done. I could relate to both characters. It is flirty and fun, sexual, but not crude. As a male listener, it was a treat.

    Cons? Well, there is an element that is predictable and this book certainly does fit into a type profile. The book is clearly part of series (Which I did not realize when I bought it) so will have to get the next book. In some places, the lead character seems over helpless while in others, unstoppable. There was one event where one of the main characters seems to depart from how the character should be, but just the same, it is forgivable.

    All in all? It is an enjoyable way to spend some time in a world of witches, vampires, demons and humans, and I very much enjoyed the clever humour of the author. It is well studied and presented - WORTH THE MONEY.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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