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A Discovery of Witches: The All Souls Trilogy, Book 1 | [Deborah Harkness]

A Discovery of Witches: The All Souls Trilogy, Book 1

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (751 )
5 star
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4.2 (419 )
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4.3 (417 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    kerry jacobs England 02/03/2011
    kerry jacobs England 02/03/2011 Listener Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
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    2
    1
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    "Enthralled"

    I really loved this book and cant wait for the authur to produce a sequel. It was pure fantasy and escapism. The narrator is also very good, it was most enjoyable and got me through hours of sewing in a world of my own.

    Thank you

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Caroline Marks NEWPORT, Gwent United Kingdom 01/03/2011
    Caroline Marks NEWPORT, Gwent United Kingdom 01/03/2011 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    25
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    3
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    "A surprisingly mature paranormal romance"

    What strikes me most about this novel is its intelligence. The author pays her readers the compliment of assuming they are intelligent and will keep up. It's packed with references to history, mythology, genetics and the human genome project, philosophy, Yoga and Eastern spiritualism, traditional values vs feminism, natural history...the discussion of how alchemical principles might have inspired Darwin's theory of evolution is simply brilliant. And on top of that, it has an engaging plot, rounded characters, an original take on the genre and a satisfying ending that nonetheless leaves me eager for the sequel.

    The central romance between Diana Bishop, a witch, and Matthew Clairmont, a vampire, develops slowly. These characters aren't teenagers and their relationship is complex and convincing: no love-at-first-sight or adolescent babblings about unconditional love. They aren't soulmates; in fact they have some serious personality conflicts that aren't fully resolved by the end. Diana's independence doesn't sit well with Matthew's old-fashioned values and protective nature. But they work these things out.

    Their relationship plays out against a backdrop of a supernatural world that lives within our own. The 'creatures' do their best to keep their existence a secret from humans but don't always seem to succeed.

    If the novel has a fault, it's a bit heavy on the exposition, sometimes at the expense of moving the plot onward. Occasionally, significant events are kind of rushed through, with minimal detail, which when it's an audiobook means if your attention wanders, you can miss important information. Also, the narrator really should have learned how to pronouce the names of the Oxford colleges; the mispronunciation is really irritating but that's only in the first act.

    I really enjoyed this novel and recommend it to any reader who is, like me, tired of the Twilight-clones. This has superficial similarities to Twilight, but it's a far superior work.

    22 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amanda Near Abingdon, United Kingdom 23/06/2011
    Amanda Near Abingdon, United Kingdom 23/06/2011 Member Since 2010

    An avid reader who usually has two or three books on the go at one time I particularly enjoy historical fiction such as Barbara Erskine's.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    31
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    55
    27
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    8
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    "Totally absorbing"

    Despite the surfeit of books on witches and vampires currently around I found this one totally addictive. The dog was walked rather more frequently than usual when I was listening to this. Based, to start with, in my home city of Oxford it moved on to France and then the USA. A witch who doesn't want to be a witch falling in love with a vampire who is of course wonderfully handsome and clever and rich. I found it amazingly believable and my only complaint was the US pronounciation of 'herbs' as 'erbs' which irritated me - but that's my only complaint! Brilliant book!

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robyn 24/06/2011
    Robyn 24/06/2011 Member Since 2015

    I get bored quickly so take ages choosing my books. Preferred authors incl Sanderson, Rothfuss, PBrett, ....tho' C Harris makes me laugh too

    HELPFUL VOTES
    366
    ratings
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    51
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    475
    6
    Overall
    "Enjoyed this!"

    I am unashamedly a Twighlight fan. This book is not Twilight....it's more grown up, possibly a little darker. Still, I found it equally enjoyable on the whole fantasy/vampire/witches side of things, and am eagerly anticipating the next book in the series....

    The narrator's accent takes some getting used to - but it doesn't distract from the story too much.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Claudia United Kingdom 14/03/2011
    Claudia United Kingdom 14/03/2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Overall
    "almost speechless"

    Run-of-the-mill. More explicit than Twilight (these are consenting adults after all) yet less offensive than some people might find Ann Rice.

    Plot is drawn-out and prose is rather hard to stomach in places. The characters are shallow and one-dimensional. The author clearly sees no value in feminist thought or doesn't understand it, as the main female character is rapidly infantelised and the main male character is given the psychological depth of a dog. The setting keeps the reader in an aristocrat bubble, further reducing this novel to being a slightly wet, albeit elaborate, teenage daydream.

    That said, I enjoyed the first third, which is interesting enough and even witty in places, although the latter may well be due to Jennifer Ikeda endearing way of performing accents.

    20 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dominic SwanseaUnited Kingdom 16/03/2011
    Dominic SwanseaUnited Kingdom 16/03/2011 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
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    4
    2
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    "Ponderous"

    Good idea but never really goes anywhere, just fades away

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janet High Wycombe, United Kingdom 30/08/2014
    Janet High Wycombe, United Kingdom 30/08/2014 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
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    "Soppy, simpering"
    What disappointed you about A Discovery of Witches?

    The fact that what should be an extremely intelligent woman is reduced to a pathetic, simpering mess


    What was most disappointing about Deborah Harkness’s story?

    Very repetitive sentiments


    Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Jennifer Ikeda?

    I did not like Jennifer's voice but the story was too stodgy to expect anyone to make a good job of it.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from A Discovery of Witches?

    The descriptive sexual elements


    Any additional comments?

    Too many random characters that do not enhance the plot or the storyline.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne Dunblane, United Kingdom 31/07/2014
    Anne Dunblane, United Kingdom 31/07/2014 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    76
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    Story
    "You could do better things with your time"

    Than listen to this drivel.

    A good title and high customer rating led me to believe that the book might be interesting. Moral is to read through the reviews.

    Plodding, dull, implausible, predictable, puerile. The world does not need another vampire book.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Madeleine London, United Kingdom 02/03/2011
    Madeleine London, United Kingdom 02/03/2011 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    54
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    "Stunned"

    Like a lot of paranormal romance, this isn't very well written. There are some interesting premises but also some huge flaws. We are told the main character, Dianna, is beautiful, ridiculously young, has a soaring IQ and a PhD in History from Yale but does inexplicably moronic thing after moronic thing to save the author's ass from some very dodgy plotting. The main love interest is - well, what you'd expect for this sort of a thing - dark, tall, handsome and shallowly drawn. Very much like Twilight, we are left to puzzle why a 1,500 year-old vampire would be remotely interested in the MC. In this case, the explanation is a combo of genetics and fate. It sure isn't her uncanny analytical skills.

    However, considering the genre, none of these things would cause me to give the book such a low rating.

    What did is was that, after suffering through 23 hours of an unnecessarily convoluted set of sub-plots that never resolve, the listener is left completely in the lurch. I'm not joking. 23 hours of NOTHING HAS HAPPENED YET.

    Obviously Ms Harkness is planning on a series. After suffering through some truly nauseating purple prose (no one can actually just walk anywhere, they have to scuttle, scamper or prowl), the lack of anything remotely resembling even partial resolution was truly infuriating. It's a real breach of trust between writer and reader.

    I won't be stupid enough to spend my money or time on any sequel. If the author didn't know better, the editor or the publisher should have.

    42 of 53 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Creative Butterfly 27/10/2014 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    46
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    103
    30
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    7
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    Story
    "Forget what you already know about Vampires"

    Diana is a witch who has denied it for years. Mathew is a vampire that can; go out into daylight with no problem, does not need to drink blood from humans to survive and is certainly not afraid of Churches.

    This book about witches and vampires is definitely not the norm. It has scholars, history and a missing book.

    I am writing this review after listening to all 3 books and all I can say is, my time could not have been better spent. All 3 are great books that make you warm to the characters the more time you spend with them, A work of fiction and a work of Art.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • Eleanor
    Sydney, Australia
    30/04/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful book"

    Absolutely adored this book. Erudite, dripping with history, wonderful and funny writing - could not put it down. The whole idea of the book is fascinating - make you look at people and on the street and wonder "Are they........?" Will not spoil it, but her theory could explain why psychiatry does not really work all the time!! The narrator Jennifer Ikeda was excellent....was able to do a variety of accents - a very creditable Australian accent, which so few seem able to manage, French (ancient and modern) and a Glaswegian accent!!!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • GinnysHex
    Stretton, Australia
    05/10/11
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful"

    I read the book before I bought the audiobook and though I enjoyed the book greatly I love the audiobook even more. I loved the different accents Jennifer Ikeda did for the characters and I hope that when Deborah Harkness finishes and release the next book that Jennifer Ikeda will do the next one as well.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • zoe
    Australia
    21/03/11
    Overall
    "Mesmirising characters and story"

    This was the first book i have listened to by Deborah Harkness. I had no expectations, and i have been pleasantly surprised. I love the way the story melds together modern life and witchcraft with strong romance between the 2 main characters. The only negative about the audiobook is the narrator, which is a small negative and is easily forgotten about when drawn into the story, unfortunately she changes her pitch in quite unexpected places where its not necessary. All in all its an intriguing story, I definitely recommend it.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Rae
    Meandarra, Australia
    28/04/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Loved it."
    Any additional comments?

    Narration was excellent. Like to list narration first as it can make or break a story.

    Love the story and will be looking forward to the next installment.

    I really enjoy it when readers with similar reading interests list their favourite authors and series. It really helps me find new authors too follow. Mine are Charlaine Harris, Jeaniene Frost, Jennifer Estep, Faith Hunter, Molly Harper, Ilona Andrews, Kresley Cole, Deborah Harkness, Nalini Singh.

    Happy Reading

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Caroline
    rosemeadow, Australia
    04/04/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Only stopped listening to sleep!"
    Any additional comments?

    This is the first time I felt I needed to write about any of the books I have listened to and I have been listening to audio books for four years, now it seems I am lost for words. This is a highly addictive story with full characters that you will become attached too. Jennifer Ikeda spins the story with beauty and care making it difficult to stop listening even when I was falling asleep. I cannot wait for the next book to continue this amazing journey.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Melissa
    Dunlop, Australia
    25/04/11
    Overall
    "More More More"

    Loved the story. Loved the narrator. This is my first Deborah Harkness book....come on Audible, we need more of this author!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Lizzy
    Ocean Grove, Australia
    19/12/11
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not normally my cup of team but ...."

    This is not something I would normally bother with. Vampires and witches - really! However, I really did enjoy this book very much. The story wasn't predictable and the characters were almost human.

    I particularly liked the conflict between the different creatures. Similar to prejudices we face in real life with race and culture. The moral is that nothing is too great that it can't be overcome.

    Highly recommend this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Tracey
    Lennox Head, Australia
    21/10/11
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting but not captivating"

    I love a good vampire story, and although this was an original take, it did not live up to my expectations! Jennifer Ikeda's voice could have been more expressive. I got the impression of straight faces and serious expressions even when they were supposed to be happy! I loved the idea of the book, Ashmore 783 but the love story got priority. It got a little more interesting toward the end but I doubt I will bother with the next book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Linda
    Warrawee, Australia
    23/06/11
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great"

    I loved listening to this story. The open ended final chapter leaves plenty of scope for a sequel...........please!!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Josie
    Australia
    08/04/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "If I could give more stars I would!"

    Dragonfly in Amber meets Dracula,
    and boy it's a good tale. I have already purchased the rest of the trilogy in anticipation. I just cannot wait to read them either, I have only got 20 minutes left of A discovery of Witches and I know despite the length of these books I will read them one after another. This tale is so involving, normally I am not a reader of anything that smacks of romance, but this one has me. I have gone up and down with the characters and cannot wait to see what happens next. The narrator is really good, she does not make it syrupy sweet so my gag reflex is not in any danger. So if you like Witches and you like paranormal (which is not something I enjoy normally so tit is a complete break in tradition for me) this book will keep you happy for at least 24 hours. I bet you get the other two books as well, just to see how the story goes, well I hope you do, because you will be missing out on a really good story if you don't.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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