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A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy) Hardcover – 8 Feb 2011

756 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (8 Feb. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670022411
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670022410
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 4.6 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (756 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 269,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


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)

An inventive addition to the supernatural craze... Historian Harkness's racy paranormal romance has exciting amounts of spells, kisses and battles, and is recounted with enchanting, page-turning panache (Marie Claire)

...notable debut...A romp through magical academia (Guardian) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES was the 2009 Frankfurt Book Fair's hottest title and Headline is proud to be launching this dazzling fiction debut in the UK in 2011

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

322 of 342 people found the following review helpful By Joanne on 2 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback
I really, really wanted to like this book.

I thought Twilight was utterly appalling, so when I saw the review on the cover of this book that said something along the lines of "The thinking person's Twilight", I thought, hurray!! An intelligent, well-plotted, well-characterised fantasy with elements of a supernatural romance - just the thing for cold evenings by the fire. Sadly, I don't feel that the book really delivered on any of these fronts. The premise seemed interesting - a mysterious manuscript that supernatural creatures want to get their hands on is called up by the novel's heroine, a witch named Diana. A dishy vampire - the hero, Matthew - sees the danger she is in and decides to get involved. The location (Oxford) is well-described, and the reader gets a nice sense of settling in for a meaty read.

Sadly, nothing much really happens. Diana spends a lot of her time going running and rowing on the river while Matthew eyes her beadily from the banks. At this point, he starts to tell her how extraordinarily brave she is to be carrying on as though there were no danger. He continues to be amazed by her courage throughout the book. I get the impression that we, the readers, are supposed to think that Diana is terribly brave too, though really it's more like she's just oblivious to the strange turn her life is taking.

She drinks enormous amounts of tea. Every time she puts on the kettle (and spoons the tea into a pot and warms her hands on the hot mug and sips at the soothing, fragrant brew), the experience is lovingly detailed for us. I began to think that tea was going to turn out to be a major plot-device, and that perhaps the action would centre around some sort of ancient tea-leaf feud, but no.

Then there is the yoga.
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Sirotinina on 2 Mar. 2011
Format: Hardcover
I know I am not the first to consider this novel a grown-up version of Twilight. Yet I wonder if I might be among the first to ask - is this a good thing? Stop me if this sounds familiar: glamorous immortals sneering at feeble `warmbloods' but making an exception for a hot but helpless woman, stepping in to rescue her every time she does anything more challenging than make a sandwich? The fact that this time the damsel in question is an internationally-acclaimed post-doc researcher rather than a feckless teenager makes the pill all the harder to swallow.

If you don't already know, `A Discovery of Witches' is set in a four-species universe where witches, daemons and vampires walk among us. Hands up all who see a problem with this? Aren't vampires supposed to have been people first? And pardon me for asking, but aren't witches people too? These eerily fascist undertones soon come to the fore, when Diana, an umpteenth generation witch with impeccably exclusive genes, meets Matthew, a vampire geneticist obsessed with pinpointing the origins of the supernatural species. (Naturally Darwin was a personal friend, as was George Washington, Shakespeare and every other historical figure the text sees fit to throw up.)

Hold on, here comes the science bit...the novel bombards the reader with endless academic theorising about evolutionary biology, as well as extended digressions into the history of alchemy. The sole purpose of this seems to be to reassure us that we are indeed reading a big grown-up book which we shouldn't be embarrassed to flash in public. Even if it is about randy two-legged leeches hanging out in castles with pointy turrets.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rowena Hoseason HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 10 May 2013
Format: Hardcover
Fans of the Twilight series and Anne Rice's vampiric creations need look no further for their next `must read'. A new author has joined the fray and she brings with her a richly textured sense of historical perspective and a fresh new world of fabulous creatures.
'A Discovery of Witches' is set in modern times and features an adult ensemble (indeed, many of the main characters are several centuries old. They certainly don't behave like teenagers...) of credible individuals. The world's population is divided into four types; normal humans, vicious vampires, creative (sometimes eccentric) daemons, and powerful witches. The heroine Diana is a born witch but her powers have been hidden for years since the death of her parents. This is the story of what happens when her powers start to surface, and how her choices will affect the delicate balance of power among the other creatures.
At the moment they all live in the shadows, but a liaison between a witch and a vampire is forbidden. When Diana falls for an eminent scientist, Matthew, who happens to be a far more than a run of the mill vampire, then the action kicks off. A war seems inevitable - and Diana, who possesses unheard of abilities, doesn't know how to wield her natural talents. She's in desperate danger, and her own kind most definitely aren't to be trusted...

This isn't a perfect book, but it's a rip-snorting start to what promises to be a gripping series. It's wonderful when a 'serious' scholar lets imagination combine with years of research and expertise. The result is a world which I had no trouble believing in, enhanced by details from French, British and American history. The scene is set in Oxford but the pace really picks up when the couple flee to France, and then move again to the States.
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