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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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Average Customer Ratings


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  • Story

A most terrific & non-typical treatment of Witches

What did you love best about A Discovery of Witches?

I thought the cautiously developed relationship and then to true love was handled extremely well and very realistic for a fantasy novel. Very tough to deal with archetypes that have been done to death and done to silliness like the Twilight series exemplifies. THIS work is just the first chapter in a Triology. Leaves anyone wanting more and explains why it's been doing so well on the top selling books lists in over two dozen languages,

Who was your favorite character and why?

Actually I like our heroines dead mother and father best because it is they that are truly at the heart of what we have only begun to glimpse.

What does Jennifer Ikeda bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

She does a very excellent job of reading, but also bringing life and characters to all the characters she has to read for. It's never confusing which character is talking even when many are in the same scene.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It's far too long for such a thing, but I have gotten through this book and the second in a few long road trips and enjoyed the company. Can't wait for the release of the final chapter to this trilogy and hope Hollywood takes notice and chooses to make this with the same quality they are handling Game of Thrones with. Anything less, would be a waste of such excellent writing.

Any additional comments?

I think the books do speak for themselves whether in audio form as I have them, or in the written form.

47 of 50 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

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.

57 of 62 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Barbara
  • Knoxville, TN, United States
  • 02-21-11

A feast for the mind and imagination

I briefly saw the recommendation for "A Discovery of Witches" and decided it was worth the one credit it cost. Little did I imagine what treasure was in store for me. Most books I read or listen to are just a good story, something that briefly occupies your mind and time in a pleasurable way. Rarely are there books that sweep you up in the arc of the story and puts the characters in your heart and mind in such a way that when you can tear yourself away from the story you find yourself thinking about the characters while you cook dinner or go about your daily life. This is that kind of book. I am thankful to Ms. Harkness for imagining such a wonderful richly written story. It's a grown-up book. If you are looking for gratuitous sex it's not there. It reminds of the way they used to make movies where you used your imagination to fill in the blanks instead of having it spelled out in front of you with graphic detail. Most books I read I can compare to junk food, a small bite of pleasure and then gone. This wondrous book is like a 10 course meal spread in front of you. I only wish it had not ended. I hate it that I cannot find any information as to when the next in the planned trilogy will be out. But I will be's worth it. Thank you again Ms. Harkness

193 of 213 people found this review helpful

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Amazing book - can't wait for books 2 & 3!

Would you consider the audio edition of A Discovery of Witches to be better than the print version?

Yes. The narrator was wonderful. The accents, different voices and inflections really add to the story.

What did you like best about this story?

The details, the slow burn of the romance, the paranormal aspects and how the characters end up becoming a family supporting each other.

Which scene was your favorite?

When the house coughed up the manuscripts pages.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, but it's too long and detailed. And then it's done and you can't wait for the next book!

Any additional comments?

Amazing new author!

26 of 28 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Tim
  • San Diego, CA
  • 03-21-11

True Blood PG13

For one novel to engender so many five and two star reviews something odd is going on. I have to add my two stars to the pile I’m afraid. That may be the lowest star count I have ever awarded. I love fantasy fiction and have read everything from Pratchett and Rowling to Lovecraft and King. I have always avoided like the proverbial plague, the romantic fiction part of the genre.

I think the enraged two star reviews are mostly from folk (like me) who may have been expecting something else and tripped over this book by mistake…perhaps having read a series of good reviews from romance fiction fans who maybe didn’t want to admit that they were what they are and tried to push the book as a good fantasy read. It’s not...not even close. It’s good romance fiction. Having spent the money on the book maybe the two star crew thought we’d stick it out and stayed longer at the syrupy feast than we ever would have had we picked the book up whilst browsing at Barns and Noble.

If you love romantic fiction where bodices rip as breasts heave you will five star gush with praise and love, love LOVE this book. I’m not saying the book is horrible, it’s not. It’s a very good example of romantic fiction with a witch-vamp twist. Having said that, if heroic vampires and wilting damsels who actually pass out with a fit of the vapors (yes really!) make you run for the smallest room then this is not for you and you will hate, hate HATE this book…as did I.

I almost never give up on a book…but after nine hours of deathless, breathless and often pointless machinations I have to throw in the towel…or at least flatten out the unsullied but tastefully rumpled duvet and straighten the billowing nets curtains. You have been warned

699 of 787 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

I liked it a lot

I was surprised to read the variety of reviews, from praise to condemnation. I recommend this audiobook without hesitation, both the book and the narration. I believe you have to start from the perspective of the genre you are reading - it is, after all, make believe. There are no such thing as vampires and witches ( well, not real witches). So..the author has the task of making you willingly suspend belief, and at the same time care about the characters. Harkness accomplishes both, and more. The book is best described as " Twilight for Adults", and thinking adults at that.

I look forward to Book # 2

154 of 173 people found this review helpful

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Too much of nothing

About the best thing I can say about this book is that if you're fighting insomnia, you can plug in your earbuds and let it talk you to sleep (and it will) for at least 6 hours without missing anything important. It's not that the author is a poor writer; she does a very nice job of describing all the furniture of every place the heroine visits, every ingredient of everything she eats, every sensation she experiences. Further, she seems terribly naive and inexperienced for someone who is supposed to be a powerful, adult witch. I thought this story might at least be a fun read, but it's not, so no reason to suffer though the rest of it.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • S
  • 08-09-12

I really wanted to like it...

But I just couldn't. The writer is technically very good, she can definitely put a sentence together properly. Unfortunately, her attention to detail, something that delighted me at first, quickly became wearying. If a character looks at a book, you'll know what kind of binding it has and the color of the cover. If someone looks at their watch, you'll get a sentence or two describing what kind it is. I like details here and there; they can make a setting and characters more real, more solid, but this book is drowning in details. Any action scenes are slowed by tangential descriptions, and everything is over-analyzed and explained to death.

The dialogue is also stilted, which works for the uptight main character, but not for all of them. It's a very dry read, and there's no humor to be found anywhere. It's just not for me.

68 of 79 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Olivia
  • Saint Cloud, FL, United States
  • 02-15-11

Many pros with a few cons

Though off to what can only be referred to as a predictable and cheesy start, the book was well-written and very enjoyable. I felt as if I got to know the characters and I was sad when the book ended. Though more than 24 hours in length, I was left wanting more.

My only issue with this book are the strange inserts such as yoga classes for vampires, which were a waste of paper to write and left me thinking "what the heck was the point of that?" LIttle things like that scattered throughout the book served only to diminish the story, not add to it.

The narrator did a wonderful job with the voices and accents and I look forward to the next installment of this series.

58 of 71 people found this review helpful

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So worth it!

I loved this story. I fell in love with the characters immediately and bought the rest of the books after only the first few chapters. Can't wait for more of this story.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful