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A Discovery of Witches: (All Souls 1) Hardcover – 8 Feb 2011


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Headline; First Edition edition (8 Feb. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755374029
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755374021
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 23.8 x 5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (712 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 296,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'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)

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


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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

309 of 329 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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By ambra on 1 Sept. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
i should have known better when people were comparing this to twilight: in fact also here there is a pitiful excuse for a woman as a heroin. it is unacceptable in this time and age to write a story about a woman who just freezes and panic and cry in front of anything that happens to her, while a man takes all the decisions, most of them while she is sleeping. moreover, the two main character who should be romantically involved, have no chemistry whatsoever, no yearning for each other, not much to talk about either. their supposed love is a given and it looks like one of these stale relationship that are nothing more than routine, and they just met!
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39 of 42 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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ellie on 18 Jun. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
mind boggling detail and a slow plot that does detail the characters but a vampire going to a yoga class - seriously - I never knew they were middle class
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By malinmaid on 3 Sept. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Dreadful rubbish. Ridiculous plot. And the scene where vampire mother drinks rabbit blood is bordering on the ridiculous! One of the worst books I have read. Trash.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Parsifal on 28 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback
I ordered A Discovery of Witches hoping for an entertaining read in the well established fantasy genre.

Instead I found myself for the first time in my life unable to plough through more than the first 40 or pages of this turgid work. I had been encouraged by the excellent reviews in the press but now I wonder if we don’t have a case of the emperor’s new clothes with no one bold enough to say that this is really not an entertaining book.

For a while I wondered if she was trying to emulate Magical Realism but even that fell short. Marques can carry the reader through his works, yet with Harkness the magic and the reality seem to jar and leave the reader irritated.

I agree with several other reviewers that the author wants us to know what a clever person she is with all her academic qualifications. If you want witches and vampires stick with Harry Potter, it’s more fun!
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