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A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

106 out of 117 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

123 out of 209 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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Page 1 of 42
  • Posted February 1, 2011

    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 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!

    106 out of 117 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 3, 2011

    Loved it

    Reminded me of early Anne Rice mixed with The Phisik Book of Deliverence Dane. Has that sort of rambling story telling that is really building a world. The authors history background brings a real richness to the story mixed with a very intense romance, ending left me wanting more. Would recomend it to Anne Rice fans and older Twilight fans

    23 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 6, 2011

    A good book with some boring parts - and I totally dug it!

    The love story between the witch and her handsome protector really and truly had me loving this book by Deborah Harkness. I was completely invested in them coming together. This is probably one of the few books I have read where the love story did not conclude the book but in fact, was the beginning of the story. When Diana met Matthew, I was waiting for her to meet her knight in shining armor. In fact, I was kinda wondering how the author would move Matthew out of our heroines way so she could indeed meet her eventual lover. I loved it when Matthew put an arm on Diana's chair and one arm on the table in front of her to protect her from an evil wizard - that's when I knew I was totally in love with him and so was Diana. This is also when I knew I liked the book regardless of the endless dribble about obscure textbooks, and manuscripts which I am so not interested in. This love story was so intriguing and worth reading the book for, I even read the parts about Darwin and evolution which were so uninteresting I wanted to turn the page but when I did try to do that the author had written some important information into the dribble so I would have to eventually go back and read it anyway. So I stuck to not skipping parts. This is a great book with the potential of being a great series. The characters are frustrating and flawed and you want to scream at Diana sometimes because she is so hard-headed, but then I realized how great that frustration is...I couldn't put the book down. This book is for anyone who likes a love story that is plausible even if the book is about fantastical creatures. I will dream for days about it. Yay!

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 19, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    GREAT READ!!!!! I am really surprised at the bad reviews this

    GREAT READ!!!!!

    I am really surprised at the bad reviews this book received. I think this is a beautifully written book. It does tend to move a little slow at times, but this is the first book in a series and I think the author has done a tremendous job at letting you get to know the characters. I did not find Diana's character annoying (as some suggested), but a little confused as to who she was, and I have a feeling as the series continues she will grow into a much stronger personality. I have enjoyed how the author has taken her time in letting the relationship grow between Diana and Matthew. So many books in this type of genre jump straight into sex with the relationship (not that I mind a little bit of smut every now and again), but Ms. Harkness has done a tremendous job of letting these two really fall in love.

    I love to get lost in a good story, and this truly is a good one. I can at least go on to the second book now, but I do hate that I have fallen in love with a story that has not been completely written yet. I hate to wait. That being said, I think this will be on worth the wait. This is a completely different take on witches and vampires and I LOVE it. It is a great love story with lots of background in the history of witches, alchemy, and the supernatural.

    What a great first book from this author!!!!!!! Hopefully, this review will help. If you are someone that wants nonstop action, this book is not for you. If you like a really imaginative story line that takes its time to develop into a really beautiful tale with lots of wonderful imagery, then this book is truly for you. Thank you Deborah Harkness!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 4, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Had I been at a bookstore, I probably would not have bought this

    Had I been at a bookstore, I probably would not have bought this book. However, I was at a small airport with a very limited selection, and after reading every single back cover of every paperback, this one sounded the most interesting, and if not interesting, I thought it might be an easy read for a short vacation.

    That being said, I was pulled in at the get-go! I enjoyed the mystery, learning about the world the author created and the rules that these creatures live by. I loved all of the characters and their quirks, and loved laughing at their personalities, including "the house" and the ghosts. There were a couple of parts where I thought It was going to get really slow and put it down, but after picking it back up I found that within only a couple of pages I was absorbed again. She really keeps everything moving and isn't too wordy. When Describing people or places, she says enough to embed it in your mind, and moves on with the story.

    I do agree with another reviewer, that the two main characters get a bit nauseating at times. Personally, I think that their intimate moments are kind of sappy, and for some reason make me uncomfortable. Since the author is used to writing non-fiction, maybe she's iffy about how to, or where to go with the physical sensuality/sexuality. It seemed stilted, like she was holding back. But, who knows, in books 2 and 3, we might find out there's a reason for it. Everything else in the book seems to have a reason, and if it doesn't, it's clear that there will be an explanation.

    When I first read, while flipping through the book, that this is a trilogy, I was annoyed. When I read that the sequel will take place in Elizabethan London, I said that it was meant to be that the choice of books to buy was so lousy , and I chose this one. The years of Henry VIII through Elizabeth I are my favorite. The history piqued my interest, and once again, it's nice that she's concise about it and doesn't drone on and on. All in all, I really enjoyed this book, and was truly surprised. It was a nice break from my usual historical fiction books. If you like historical fiction, and can handle fantasy (I would call this light or "realistic" fantasy, meaning that you can imagine living in this world...there are humans), then I would highly recommend this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am looking forward to the second in the trilogy.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 22, 2013

    Something for everybody. This book is like a cross between Twili

    Something for everybody. This book is like a cross between Twilight, Wicked and one of Dan Brown's books like Da Vinci Code or Angels and Demons. After the first few chapters, I couldn't put it down. There are definitely a lot of parallels with Twilight, Diana and Matthew could easily be Bella and Edward. Only I think Matthew has a little Christian Grey in him. Matthew is a commanding vampire but Diana is no regular mortal. She is a witch and their union crosses The Congregation's lines. The Congregation is like the United Nations of creatures or like the Volturi in Twilight. The Congregation's job is to make sure humans do not find out about the existence of creatures. Not only are there witches and vampires but also daemons that share the planet.
    This book is not about forbidden love. There's a mystery involved. Diana's parents who were also witches were brutally killed when she was 7 and no one knows who the killer or killers are. Diana is also being threatened by all of these creatures since she unknowingly called upon a missing ancient betwitched manuscript. What's in the manuscript????
    Not only is there a mystery to unfold but there's history and academia in this novel. It's not a young adult romance. I love that the characters' physical ages are in their mid 30's (discounting the vampire years of course). The only criticism is that it is a looonnnggg read. But for me it was worth it. I can't wait to read the second book in the trilogy!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2013

    Enjoyable :)

    I found it easy to fall into these characters and this fantasy world. It was well written and entertaining.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2013

    Really Enjoyed This Book!

    I was surprised at how much enjoyed it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2012

    Loved this Book!

    Loved this book, once I started reading it, sooo hard to put down!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2012

    Good story

    I thought the story started out kind of slow but it picked up. I found myself wanting to know what was going to happen next. I enjoyed the whole combination of different types of characters. I did not realize this was the start of a trilogy and now feel a little let down because I really wanted some closure. I was looking so forward to a big ending and was left hanging. Now I HAVE TO read the next book because I just have to know what happens next. I guess I'm hooked!! The story is a good read and I would recommend this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2012

    I enjoyed it....

    You will have to decide if this book is for you or not, based on just how well you know yourself and the reviews providedby others. If you can enjoy something without being overly critcal and have the ability to get into the "spirit" (pun intended) of the whimsy of the story, give it a shot. There are plenty of reviews on either side of the fence with this book, from expressing the reader was into the story line, to the ones that have outlined premise, and why the reader did not care for the book and identified slow spots.

    I too was hooked before I realized this was writen with the intention of sequel books, and will be getting the next one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2012

    First of a coming trilogy

    Before you commit to this book, it is the first of a trilogy that is not yet complete as of the date of this review. I was intrigued and read it anyway. I am so pleased that I did! I don't understand why people keep likening it to Twilight. It just shows they haven't read much in the way of intelligent books. The formula is of course familiar but it's still a refreshing story. I didn't mind the detail the author gave in the characters' actions or the items and histories of them either. There were quite a few characters but the author gave just enough background on the minor ones for you to understand the relevance. For readers who lack imagination and crave action on every page like in a comic book, you may want to pass. I felt it was paced just right!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 13, 2012

    Very readable story...Love the moral

    I love this genre, and the imagination required to come up with a believable story including daemons, vampires, witches and humans is impressive to me. Though the story is a little unbelievable in parts (i.e. the heroine is often oblivious to what is going on in her life)and the number of surprise realizations and "secrets" that are forced on the reader gets a little tiresome, I nevertheless enjoyed this book. I love how the author brings together these groups of creatures (to use the terminology from the story)who are supposed to be at odds with one another. We get to watch them learn to like, respect, and love one another, despite and because of their differences. Could the storytelling have been smoother? Could the situations have been better realized? Yes and yes. But in the end, the moral of the story kept me hooked, I liked the characters, and I like where the story is leading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2012

    I couldn't put down this book.

    The best book I've read in quite a while. Storyline is an interesting mix of history, science, suspense and a touch of romance. Reminded me of authors Dan Brown and Diana Gabaldon to some extent. There better be a sequel because of the unfinished manner in which the book ends!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2012

    Loved it!

    If you like history mixed in with your books, you'll love this book. I knew from the first disc that I was hooked. This book has vampires, witches and demons, but it also has history, drama and love. This is a good mix if you ask me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. If you like this book, you might like to read, The Historian.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2012

    Wel...

    Ok this was one of my book club picks. This book started slow and picked up fantastically in the end. I will give it 4 stars for the end but 3 stars for the beginning.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2011

    A Very Good Book

    I found the book to be interesting. At times it was long, but there is a lot of detail and it is also part of a trilogy which means the story will stretch through 3 books. I have a teenager who I suggested read the book after I did. She really enjoyed it, especially after reading the Twilight series. So, it is a great book for teenager readers who really enjoy reading.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Wonderfully Written Tale

    At first glance, the sheer volume of this book seems daunting. However, the first page of the book sucks you into the story and before you know it, you are a third of the way through. I love the depth of this story, which is rich in detail. Harkness paints a picture of every location and provides in-depth historical information that adds excitement and mystery to the story. I fell in love with the characters and cannot wait until the next book is published so I can follow them through their continued journey!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 8, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Science and paranormal? Yes please!

    Great book. I really liked how it combined DNA sciences and witches and vimpires. At times I was a little lost in all the technical dna info and wanting to get on with the developing relationship and vice versa. I realized with about 50 pages left that it would have to be a series because no way could everything be wrapped up. Can't wait till the next installment.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2014

    First, this is the first book in a trilogy, so don't expect a ni

    First, this is the first book in a trilogy, so don't expect a nice tidy ending.
    Second, this is a much meatier book than many of the young adults books popular in this genre, so be prepared to dig in and do some reading.
    Third, do not expect the relationships between the characters to be "real" human experiences, because most of the characters are not human.  
    I really enjoyed this book and the next two as well.  I appreciated the tone of the book and think it has to  do with Harkness' background as a historian. This is a book of much more historical context, period desciption and character devolpement than action scenes.  So, if you are a reader who prefers a fast-paced, action-filled, easy-read book, you should look elsewhere.
    After reading this series, I am not hooked on the history of alchemy and science and have started doing my own research in these areas.

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