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Publisher's Summary

Book one of the New York Times best-selling All Souls Serie - "a wonderfully imaginative grown-up fantasy with all the magic of Harry Potter and Twilight” (People).

Now “[a] hot show that’s like Twilight meets Outlander” (Thrillist) airing on AMC and BBC America, as well as streaming on Sundance Now and Shudder.

Deborah Harkness’s sparkling debut, A Discovery of Witches, has brought her into the spotlight and galvanized fans around the world. In this tale of passion and obsession, Diana Bishop, a young scholar and a descendant of witches, discovers a long-lost and enchanted alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, deep in Oxford's Bodleian Library. Its reappearance summons a fantastical underworld, which she navigates with her leading man, vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont.

Harkness has created a universe to rival those of Anne Rice, Diana Gabaldon, and Elizabeth Kostova, and she adds a scholar's depth to this riveting tale of magic and suspense. The story continues in book two, Shadow of Night, book three, The Book of Life, and the fourth in the series, Time’s Convert.

©2011 Deborah Harkness (P)2011 Penguin

Critic Reviews

“A wonderfully imaginative grown-up fantasy with all the magic of Harry Potter or Twilight.... An irresistible tale of wizardry, science and forbidden love.” (People)   

“Romantic, erudite, and suspenseful.... Harkness attends to every scholarly and emotional detail with whimsy, sensuality, and humor.” (O, The Oprah Magazine

“A thoroughly grown-up novel packed with gorgeous historical detail and a gutsy, brainy heroine to match.... Harkness writes with thrilling gusto about the magical world.” (Entertainment Weekly

Featured Article: The 10 Best Vampire Book Series to Sink Your Teeth Into


You’ve powered through Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series, and you’re a die-hard Anne Rice fan—but you want more vampire audiobooks in your life! If you like your vampires deadly, set in an alternate Victorian era, or attending an elite and prestigious prep school in New York City, these are great picks! Whether you’re in the mood for something dark, something sexy, or just something new, we’ve got the bloodiest and best vampire book series for you.

What listeners say about A Discovery of Witches

Average Customer Ratings
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    29,630
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Not for me

Let me preface my review by saying that you should take my review with a grain of salt. This book came highly recommended to me and seems to be pretty well liked overall. Currently, on goodreads, there are over 318,000 ratings and the book has a 4 star average.

A Discovery of Witches is book one of the All Souls Trilogy. This is the first book that I have tried from this author. I'm not sure if I would try another.

I love fantasy, witches, vamps, demons, all that. I thought A Discovery of Witches would be right up my alley and had been really excited to read it for a while. Unfortunately, I found it to be boring and it just droned on. I couldn't connect with the main character at all and had no interest in her or what she was saying because it was just monotonous. As I mentioned a moment ago, there are witches and vampires and demons and up to the point where I stopped reading, there wasn't any air of excitement at all. The main character is a scholar who spends every day, all day, in the Oxford library researching old books and manuscripts and talks about it ad nauseam. She is also a witch but refuses to acknowledge her powers and makes an effort to do everything the long and tedious way to prove that she doesn't need magic to succeed. Except for when she does use magic and rationalizes it away. When she isn't in the library she is running or rowing a boat. Couple all of that with some flowery prose and that was the beginning of the book in a nutshell. The audiobook is 24 hours long. I only made it 2.5 hours so maybe it gets better...I mean it has to, right? I just couldn't take anymore to find out for myself.

The narration was fine. I didn't have any problems with it. It seemed pretty monotone but honestly, I think that was just how the book was, not anything the narrator did.

206 people found this helpful

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abusive romance. no plot whatsoever.

was the NY times high when they reviewed this piece of trash? no plot. she falls in love instantly for no reason and theres nothing that makes you even like any of the characters. no personality to speak of

92 people found this helpful

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Should Have Trusted My Own Judgment

This book is a Romance.
Do you hear me saying this book is a Romance?
Don't buy if you are not looking for a book that is all Romance.

I would have preferred a narrator who had a more mature voice. If the majority of the characters had been 20-somethings or younger, than this narrator would have been fine. Her voice and intonations are too juvenile for the majority of characters who are late 30s or older.

Despite comparisons in reviews, this story line doesn't rival the Outlander series.

87 people found this helpful

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Twilight Reject!!!!

This book is called Discovery of witches yet it focuses on a witches love and relationship with a vampire & how they might be able to have children. Where’s the spell casting where’s the action. The best part was when Diana got kidnapped by the other witch other than that boring

67 people found this helpful

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Not impressed

This is just a romance novel wrapped in supernatural mumbo jumbo...meh. The characters are pretty typical for any adventure/romance. I was unimpressed.

51 people found this helpful

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I can’t finish the book.

I am about half way through and feel like nothing has happened. Their romance hasn’t taken off the people who are after her haven’t done anything yet. If I hear one more word about wine my head is going to explode. I feel like this is a college book I am reader dry and never ending. I keep waiting for it to get exciting but good lord the audible book has been going for 8 hours and nothing has happened. Honestly get better editing and edit out all the filler and get to the main story. I don’t even know how people liked this book.

59 people found this helpful

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I give up

I am ~16 hours in and I just can’t anymore. I am torn between wanting to know what happens and dreading listening to the thing, which I feel like is a bad sign. I find the main character obnoxious and unlikely, the love interest unappealing, and the chemistry between them... well, I couldn’t find that.
I was seriously confused at hour 9 as to whether the plan was for these two characters to get together. Again, not a great sign. It just drags on with no apparent point, while at the same time is painfully obvious writing with not a hint of subtlety. I’m not even mad, I didn’t know you could get both of those things in one book, simultaneously. Impressive.

18 people found this helpful

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Bo. Ring.

Twilight for grown-ups with no less wish-fulfillment and a plot that moves at a snail's pace. Flowery language, in places too much so.

25 people found this helpful

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With a brush of her finger against the smooth glas

of her smartphone she paused the breathless narration. She stared at her phone in irritation, as it sat, on her plain particleboard desk, headphones dangling from the input. The electric glare from her computer monitor reflected against the phone.

TL,DR: I stopped listening because this entire book is breathless descriptions of mundane actions. It could be about half ato a third as long as it is. I don't mind detail but when you're breathlessly describing the act of GETTING DRESSED TO GO HORSEBACK RIDING?

Seriously, they just described the feel of putting boots on. At a certain point, the things I am reading need to advance the plot not just make me feel ambiance.

Some people are complaining that this is a romance, but here's the thing, I LOVE ROMANCE NOVELS. This is just... breathless descriptions of life with occasional plot points. I tried, I really did. But Nope.

385 people found this helpful

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Started out intriguing, devolved into Twilight 2.0

Initially, I was delighted with this book: the studious, ambitious, highly intelligent and independent heroine appealed to me, as did the world of libraries, academia and research. Books, tea, wine and academic pursuits are my jam, and I really enjoyed Diana. Initially, that is.

As the plot progresses and the inevitable romance commences, Diana could increasingly be replaced by a sack of potatoes without the narrative suffering, she becomes that insignificant. Suddenly, she lacks drive, intelligence and initiative, becomes a woman-child that has to be lead everywhere by hand, has to have her own biology, powers and, well, everything explained to her by her romantic interest and everyone else - and just like Bella Swan, she has to be carried everywhere.

And then there's the romance, which kicks up without explanation and much reason. I'm bored and faintly disgusted by the Pater Familiaris hero archetype that Matthew exemplifies: he makes Diana's decisions for her, keeps things from her "for her own good", categorically and repeatedly postpones discussing important things with her, manages her, manhandles her around, growls and snaps and drags and "bundles" her everywhere, acts possessive, territorial and jealous, and he's supposed to be sexy and interesting and manly, instead of a giant bag of NOPE?! No, just no. Matthew outright states he's "been managing [Diana] for weeks", and neither Diana or the author seem to think this is anything but Just Wonderful. (Then again, at this juncture it's debatable Diana, the independent, intelligent academic with a professor's mental capabilities, can think at all without someone else feeding her every thought and idea; see: sack of potatoes.) The Instant Kudzu Romance Plot goes beyond the ridiculous on the WTF-meter when Matthew declares the two of them married because Diana kissed him in the presence of his mother -- and this marriage is apparently instant and binding, with no input from Diana herself. Subsequently Diana declares herself mother to Matthew's children - you know, creatures that are hundreds of years older than her - and proceeds to become instantly caring and adoring towards them. No one raises so much as an eyebrow at this Speedball Stepford manoeuvre: it's all business as usual and completely reasonable by everyone's lights.

There were parts of this novel I genuinely did enjoy: the worldbuilding is interesting, the alchemy and history woven into the plot were fascinating, and the "creatures" and their particulars and dynamics as imagined by Harkness were refreshingly different from the conventions of the genre. I found the scholarly bits and Diana's existence as a serious academic much more interesting and convincing than, well, the rest of the book, and I was disappointed that her intelligence was set firmly in the realm of "tell", not "show".

As for the audiobook, I enjoyed Jennifer Ikeda as the narrator, and found her voice very pleasant to listen to. However, Ikeda's pronunciation of anything but American English was quite lacking, and while I somewhat understand that a small, "exotic" language such as Finnish might be too tall an order, I have trouble believing they couldn't find any source of Scottish English or even a convincing French-accented English for her to listen to as a reference. I cringed every time Ikeda had to deviate from American English, and I wish whoever produced and directed her narration would have given her the tools to help her perform better.

164 people found this helpful