Customer Reviews for

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1)

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

97 out of 107 people found this review helpful.

Great choice for fans of Anne Rice's witch/vampire novels!

I have just finished reading this book and found it far more enjoyable than I expected to from reading the synopsis. A Discovery of Witches is by a first-time fiction author and is set in modern times, the fantasy element comes in when we discover that the makeup of th...
I have just finished reading this book and found it far more enjoyable than I expected to from reading the synopsis. A Discovery of Witches is by a first-time fiction author and is set in modern times, the fantasy element comes in when we discover that the makeup of the world's intelligent creatures is only around 90% human with the other 10% comprising witches, vampires and daemons. It is the story of Diana, the last witch in a long line of Butler witches who can trace their history back to the Salem Witch Trials. Diana has spent most of her life denying her magical abilities, her parents were killed when she was very young and fear plays a large part in her reluctance to use magic. When she discovers a mysterious lost (and magical) file in a library whilst researching the history of alchemy her life changes in a major way. She meets a gorgeous male vampire, Matthew, a distinguished scientist, who is a lot older than he looks, and he appoints himself as her protector against the horde of witches, vampires and daemons who want to know the secret of the missing manuscript, they all have their own theories about what this work contains and will stop at nothing to get it.

This is obviously the first book in a series and has both romantic and thriller elements in addition to its modern fantasy theme, it started a little too slowly for my liking but it is well worth persevering as once the pace picks up it is very hard to put down. In this society, vampires and witches hate each other as a general rule and the relationship that develops between Diana and Matthew has serious repercussions for the whole of non-human society. The dynamic between the two of them is fascinating, and more than a little erotic, this book is likely to appeal to women far more than men. Diana is feisty, Matthew is controlling, the clashes between the two of them, particularly as Diana learns just how much power she has, are sometimes emotional, sometimes humorous and always entertaining. I particularly loved the Bishop family house where Diana's aunt and her female partner (both witches themselves) live, I won't spoil the surprise but its certainly no ordinary home and the events that take place there provide some of the most humorous moments in the story as well as one of the most dramatic. This novel will definitely appeal to fans of Anne Rice's Mayfair Witches and Vampire Chronicles novels and I am looking forward to the next instalment. Be warned, it has a cliffhanger ending!

posted by Saetana on February 1, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

122 out of 208 people found this review helpful.

How can a ebook be more expensive than a hardcover?

B&N you have got to figure this out!!! There are so many books I would love to buy but seriously an ebook should not be more than $9.99!!!!!

posted by LoveToReadNYC on February 16, 2011

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  • Posted May 25, 2011

    Started out promising

    This book got my attention at the beginning very well. But once the romance started developing I wanted to stop reading. It became more and more like Twilight (which was the most poorly plotted book I have ever read) The romance in the middle was too contrived and fast. The book is 500 pages, take some time on it. The main character became a total idiot, doing whatever the vampire told her to do. They kept saying that she was strong and stubborn, but all I saw from the middle on was a damsel in distress. The characters all started to melt together and become the same person, or a cliche. Minor characters were not developed at all. Stop comparing harkness to anne rice, she isn't that good.

    9 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 8, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Discovery of Nothing

    What a waste of time! After all the buzz about this book, I was really excited to get my hands on it. Then I couldn't wait to get my hands OFF it. I made it through the first few pages, then I already felt the story start to drag - witches, daemons (I still don't know what exactly these were supposed to be), vampires, running, rowing boats, yoga, gay daemon... What exactly is the point and where is this going? After 100 pages, I did not even care anymore. Nothing was happening! The best part of what I read was that the boredom put me to sleep.

    8 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 25, 2011

    Quit complaining about the cost of ebooks

    Please recognize that when you buy a book you are paying for the CONTENTS not a physical thing. If you think the ideas or writing or topic has no value then don't buy it. If you so desperately need to pay for a physical book the give up your ereader.

    8 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 23, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Monumental Collision of Magic, History, and Science!

    This is not your ordinary story about witches, vampires and daemons!

    Diana Bishop's famous ancestor was executed for being a witch. As a heart-rending consequence of Diana's parents' mysterious deaths, Diana has vowed she will live totally as a human, denying her identity as a witch with both usual and unusual powers. Dedicating her life to logic and ordinary living, she is now a history scholar doing research on alchemy texts in the Bodleian library at Oxford. Upon receiving a requested text called Ashmole 782, she realizes either the book is spellbound or there is something about this book that connects with her hidden witch powers. Add to that the reactions of suddenly appearing witches, vampires, and daemons whose animosity and threatening looks and words make Diana's wish for normalcy an illusion she can no longer ignore.

    Into the midst of this reality arrives a handsome, extremely intelligent and old vampire, Matthew Clairmont, who is supposedly pursuing his own research as a geneticist. Initially disliking and avoiding his presence, Diana finally begins to realize he is protecting her from direct attack by the hordes of persons appearing daily in the library who are insisting she recall the text they are desperate to obtain. Then he begins to appear during her running and rowing exercises which seem to be the only way she can stop her natural abilities from emerging with perilous effects on herself as well as others.

    Why is Matthew so attracted to Diana and what is behind the interest so many have in this mysterious text lost for centuries which has appeared and again disappeared after Diana's innocent unbinding of its pages? Finally, when several close calls with death frighten Diana into realizing her lack of control, she accepts shelter first with Matthew's vampire family in France and then with her own witch family in America.

    A Discovery of Witches is so much more than just a supernatural story! Yes there are adventurous thrills for those who love the proverbial accounts of such creatures. But here is an intelligent consideration of the essence of origins, differences, genetic mating and consequences, shared powers defying definition and classification, versions of history holding secret and amazing phenomena, relationships of enmity forced to unite under common needs - both good and evil, the quintessential realities behind the search for the Philosopher's stone or alchemy, and so much more.

    Add to that a sweet, dangerous romance all the more real because of what seems to be its doomed end, and herein is the perfect combination, preciously difficult to adequately encompass in any brief review. This tale is a smart, tense, provocative, and enchanting read you will not want to end and will be relishing long after the last page is turned. This reviewer is so looking forward to the sequel to this amazing novel which will be a best seller!!! Absolutely delightful and impossible to put down!

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2011

    Can I Get Those Hours of My Life Back? Kthxbai.

    Started off interesting but quickly became Twilight: The College Years. I hate not finishing a book and genuinely thought that since it has been so well reviewed that it would get better...but.it.never.did. After more than 500 pages of not getting to the point and throwing in whatever rushed plot additive appearing out of thin air, I found out it's part of a trilogy. Won't be reading book two...pretty sure my eyes would bleed.

    7 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 4, 2011

    Disappointment!

    I got about 250 pages into this 580+ page book before I finally gave up. It started off pretty promising, but really went nowhere - very slowly. I read the sample before I purchased and really, that was the best part. Hey, I read the Twilight Saga, and this was cheesier! Save your money! I wish I could get a refund.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 20, 2011

    Is there a spell to get my money back for this?

    After the glowing reviews in any number of outlets I was beyond excited to read this book. I'm a sucker for any sort of supernatural stuff so I figured this was a no-brainer. Well, it IS a no-brainer, but in the sense that I feel stupider for having read it. The plot has promise but the author does zilch to advance it at a tolerable pace. The characters are simply not interesting enough to fill the sheer amount of space she appears to need in order to tell this story. I am about 250 pages in and I seriously don't think I can finish it. I am no stranger to overly long and verbose books, being a fan of both Tolkien and Anne Rice (to whom this author is inexplicably compared), but this novel is just painfully boring. Nothing happens, at least not 250 pages in. I could almost forgive Harkness for taking her time to get to the point, but not when her characters grate on your nerves like it's nobody's business. Diana, if she's supposed to be a "heroine" of a novel, is just about the most helpless and insufferable female character I've encountered in literature. You are a 35 year old tenured Yale graduate but you are letting a man dictate your every move? Why does she even like Matthew so much anyway? Why do they like each other? He's arrogant, bossy and bordering on misogynistic. I don't have any idea why anyone would want to be with him. If it's just the sweaters and dark hair, you'd probably be better off with Bill Huxtable...at least he had a sense of humor. The supposed attraction (and I say supposed because there's about as much chemistry here as one would find at a mixer for the KKK and NAACP) is never really explained and I guess us readers are just supposed to accept it. Never mind the fact that for all the supposed inter-species warring there is zero tension and drama in this book...and I'm sorry, if you aren't a good enough writer to at least inject a little bit of action in your book 1/3rd of the way into it, then you need help. So far all it's been is an endless repetition of yoga, food, sleep, yoga, horseback riding, running, rowing, more yoga...and oh yeah, tea. Can't forget the tea. Or the wine. Long story short, I wish I had been smart enough to take this out of the library, or even to buy the hardcover as opposed to the nookbook....that way I would have had a shot at returning it, or at least selling it and getting some of my money back. The premise shows so much promise, but I'll be damned if Deborah Harkness didn't completely drop the ball on the execution. The fact that this book is getting the sort of praise it's getting literally boggles my mind...either that or the author and publisher are real witches and are using magic to make everyone think this is better than it was. I'm struggling to finish it, mostly because the English major in me hates to leave a book in the middle but also because I want my thirteen bucks worth. I don't think I've got the strength to power through though.

    7 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 24, 2011

    soo slow

    i know book got good rrviews but could not get past pg 100

    6 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    a great academic fantasy. A must read for urban fantasy fans

    Most of the patrons and staff at the Oxford University Bodleian Library are paranormals consisting of three species: witches, daemons and vampires; though there are some humans also. Visiting American witch Yale professor Diana Bishop is at the library conducting research into ancient alchemy tomes when she uncovers the Ashmole 782 manuscript that may provide insight into the origins of the species. Using her paranormal skills, as the offspring of two powerful but deceased witches, Diana uses an enchantment to open the tome.

    Her incantation leads 1,500 years old vampire Matthew Clairmont to Bishop as well as the now, freed by her, undead who want their accidental liberator dead in case she can reverse what she wrought. Breaking the class taboo, the witch and the vampire team up to keep her safe while they investigate the origin of the species. As their attraction grows, many of the paranormal want both dead for breaking the laws of nature that forbids cross species relationships.

    Although over the top of Sir Christopher Wren's Tom Tower, A Discovery of Witches is a great academic fantasy in which readers will feel Deborah Harkness put a spell on us. Fast-paced with an underlying social theme and a nod to Darwin, a world of four sentient species sharing the famous library and fragile peace makes for a fun start to an engaging tale. Diana the intellectual witch and her undead protector are a fine team escorting the audience through lethal maize of paranormal who want them dead.

    Harriet Klausner

    6 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2012

    Captivating

    I just read a number of reviews from other "readers." Did we all read the same book or are many of you out there who read the first chapter then spew your venomous opinions. I bought this book on a whim, having never seen "Twilight" or read Ann Rice. I'm new to this little nitch of the literary world and glad I found it. To appreciate the genius and skill of this author takes one thing-imagination! If you allow yourself to be pulled into the story and the great adventure it becomes, it's a fantastic ride. I read it cover to cover (forsaking sleep at times) and laughed at the ending because it was perfect-both an ending and a beginning. I've since reread the book several times to get more of the detail and nuance the author weaves in so skillfully. I am anxiously awaiting July and the sequel. For you negative types, don't buy it, don't pretend to read it, and don't post more drivel posing as a review.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 7, 2011

    Boored Bored me

    Boring and bland

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 3, 2011

    Mediocre book

    This book seems like it should be in the young adult section. The writing is predictable and simple. The whole book seems so contrived and the dialogue embarrassingly corny and juvenile. Lots of wasted time on descriptions of tea, yoga and other nonsense. Good book to take to bed though

    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 30, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Awful!

    One of the most boring novels I have ever waded through. The heroine if you can call her that is pathetic. Everytime you turn around a new character is introduced. Probably why the development of them is so poor. I don't understand how some could have rated this title so highly but I have to question their sanity. Do yourself a favor and pass on this boring plot that drags on and on and leaves you wthout a real ending. I can only assume the author assumes she will finish the job of boring us to death with a followup book. Not me I won't waste another penny on this author.

    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2011

    Big Disappointment!

    I was so disappointed by this novel. Im afraid I got caught up in the media hype, especially the comparisons to Anne Rice (could not be further from the truth). I am an avid reader and I found this book to be weak, slow and uninteresting. The characters remain at a distance, never leaping from the page to allow you to care about their story. The "idea" of A Discovery of Witches is clever but simply put was unsucessful. I felt the writing was choppy and the characters lacked depth and emotion. I urge you to read all of the reviews before purchasing this pricey eBook. Sorry to say it's not worth it.

    5 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2011

    Disappointment, considering all the hype

    I patiently waited for my number to come up on the "hold list" at my library, and when it finaly did I was so excited. I was really looking forward to reading this since I'd been hearing such great things about it. What a disappointment. I thought it started out "alright," nothing to boast about, but mildly intriguing. It became more and more difficult to read as it went on, though. Besides the choppy writing style of the author, the characters never became all that interesting to me. As soon as something that might be considered "exciting" seemed about to happen, it was quickly wrapped up or left hanging. I trudged through the book hoping it would get better, but it just left me empty and feeling like it had been a waste of time. I really didn't care if the main characters were together or not; they were both pretty boring. I did find the last quarter or so of the book to be the most interesting, but it ended abruptly and incompletely. I realize that's probably because the author is planning on a next installment, but I find that I don't really care to know what happens next---I don't think anything of substance ever happened in THIS installment! I think the author probably had a lot of good ideas in her head and has read a lot of good stories of this type, but just lacks the ability to take all that material and make it into a more fully developed and engrossing tale of her own. Sad to feel that way about a book that seemed so promising by the description, but I have to pass on any future chapters!

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 21, 2011

    good read, couldnt put it down

    I thought it was a great read, but didnt know that it was a series...cant wait for the rest to get here...

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 21, 2011

    Don't bother with this one

    I read a lot and I was anxious to read this one. However, the author got so bogged down in ancient history and alchemy that it was boring. If she had stuck to the story line and not gone off in tangents about all the alchemy solutions etc it would have been ok. I had to struggle to get thru the last 150 pages. Matthew, one of the main characters just ended up being a sick love puppy in the end. Nothing like the strong character he started out to be. I hated the last part of the book and won't buy the next one due to the complicated writing of the ancient historical facts and all of the confusing Alchemy writing. Skip this one folks. Ms. Harkness you need to change some things in next book!

    4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 22, 2011

    Terrible!

    I have a hard time giving this book even one star! I bought this because at the time it received great ratings and I wanted to try something different. This was 587 pages and honestly could have been written in about 180. Extremely boring. It took an extreme amount of time to get to the point. I will not be continuing with the rest of the trilogy. I tried. I don't understand how it could have gotten good reviews unless people like pointless boring books, but I guess that is why there ARE so many books.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 19, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Did not really grab me.

    The book started off really well for me and I got into it because of the potential of the setting and world. I loved the history built into the world with the different being and how they fit in with each other and their history. I was really enjoying the mystery and the buildup...but about halfway through I kind of lost interest. I think that it was due to the fact that while I enjoy the main character and the premise I did not feel like the 2 main characters relationship and connection was sold to me. I read about it,and was told about it...but I never felt it. So I felt detached from that part of the story. So..the final verdict was a meh.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 11, 2011

    Harlequin romance

    This book reminded me of the Harlequin Romance books I used to read when I was 12. It has some historical references thrown in to make it appear a little more intellectual, but the basic story is the same. Girl meets boy, Girl despises boy, Girl falls in love with boy (in an amazingly short time), Girl gives ups her sense of self to do whatever Boy wants her to do. I kept reading it hoping it would get better; hoping Diana would develop a sense of self and a personality, but it never happened. This is so obviously an attempt to capitalize on the vampire/romance genre that is so trendy now.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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