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A Discovery of Witches (Basic) [Large Print] [Hardcover]

Deborah E. Harkness
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (617 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 2011 Basic

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...

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

Product details

  • Hardcover: 881 pages
  • Publisher: Thorndike Press; Lrg edition (April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1410436330
  • ISBN-13: 978-1410436337
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 16 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (617 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 417,958 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
277 of 295 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tea and Yoga 2 Dec 2011
By Joanne
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I really, really wanted to enjoy this book but alas, as I turned the final page I was left with only disappointment. From previous reviews, I was given the impression that although the book was hard-going, it was all worth it because the ending was amazing. I disagree. It was so frustrating. Throughout the entire book the only impression I got was that the author was desperate to show off their amazing writing skills, at the expense of a plotline. The author explains everything mundane event in excruciating detail, so that we know exactly what the main character has for EVERY meal in the whole book in more detail than we ever need to know. But when something interesting actually happens, it's over in a few pages! I was fully disappointed and frustrated with this book and so wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Undead in the water... 2 Mar 2011
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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94 of 110 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good 1 Feb 2011
By Simon Tavener VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have to admit that this book surprised me. I selected it because of the Oxford connection - it is always interesting to see how authors interpret the place where I live. It was an additional surprise to see that the central character had rooms in my old college (the ironically named New College - founded in 1379!)

I haven't attempted to read a vampire-related tale since I tried the Lestat novels of Anne Rice - and I found this a much more enjoyable piece of writing. There is a flow to the narrative which does prove engaging from the very first page. Given that it is not a short book, finding a way to keep the reader hooked throghout is quite an achievement for a debut novelist.

Dianna is a strong central figure - neatly drawn and not at all weak and compliant as she could easily have been made. She is well matched by the suave Matthew. There is an instant spark to their relationship - which is well sustained and not in a predictable way.

As is essential with novels in this particular genre, Harkness is very precise about the way she creates a world where vampires, witches and daemons are able to exist seemlessly with mere mortals - everything is remarkably plausible and coherent.

After all this praise, why not the full five stars? It comes down to the Oxford setting. It is probably my own detailed knowledge of the city that makes all the excessive detail given over to evoking the city feel more like a travel guide than something more real. There are a few factual slips that slightly undermine the setting. It is clear that the author does know Oxford but not, perhaps, as well as she might think.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Unless you're Ten years old, don't bother
I ordered these books after recommendations from Diana Gabaldon's fans, thinking they would be as exciting and well written as the Outlander series. How wrong I was. Read more
Published 9 hours ago by Hummybee
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly recommended!
I can not praise this book and authoress highly enough.
The slow building, highly descriptive and superbly researched book is a true pleasure to read. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Cheryl Lyrehc
1.0 out of 5 stars The Emperor's's New Clothes?
I ordered A Discovery of Witches hoping for an entertaining read in the well established fantasy genre. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Parsifal
4.0 out of 5 stars great read
Couldn't put it down. Always such a pleasure to read a book that is well written. A big thank you to the author.
Published 5 days ago by Deonna
3.0 out of 5 stars Discovery of witches
Diana is a witch,she knows she is a witch, but refuses to use her powers (much to her aunts annoyance . So Diana is a witch in denial. Read more
Published 6 days ago by Fantasy Fiction Fan
5.0 out of 5 stars Witches, vampires, alchemy and a mystery – a few of my favourite...
The first chapter was intriguing enough the make this reader want more and by the time Matthew was introduced I was well and truly hooked. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars this is for the twilight fans
I really enjoyed reading this book vampires demons witches even ghosts its a long book going to read the second book.really written well.
Published 9 days ago by Andrea Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant
What a brilliant book! I loved it. Engaging characters, storyline good build up for next book. Have recommended it to my
Published 10 days ago by donn2149
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Tried this as I came across it when flicking through Amazon. Great read
Published 13 days ago by Pam
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This is the best book I have read in ages. Grown up fantasy at it's best...
Published 14 days ago by Toni
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