A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

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"A wonderfully imaginative grown-up fantasy with all the magic of Harry Potter and Twilight."

In a sparkling debut, A Discovery of Witches became the "it" book of early 2011, bringing Deborah Harkness into the spotlight and galvanizing fans around the world. In this tale of passion and obsession, Diana Bishop, a young scholar and the descendant of witches, discovers a long-lost and enchanted alchemical manuscript deep in Oxford's ...

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A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1)

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"A wonderfully imaginative grown-up fantasy with all the magic of Harry Potter and Twilight."

In a sparkling debut, A Discovery of Witches became the "it" book of early 2011, bringing Deborah Harkness into the spotlight and galvanizing fans around the world. In this tale of passion and obsession, Diana Bishop, a young scholar and the descendant of witches, discovers a long-lost and enchanted alchemical manuscript deep in Oxford's Bodleian Library. Its reappearance summons a fantastical underworld, which she navigates with her leading man, vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont. Harkness has created a universe to rival those of Anne Rice, Diana Gabaldon, and Elizabeth Kostova, and she adds a scholar's depth to this riveting story of magic and suspense.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Sometimes scholars should be more careful: Youthful researcher Diana Bishop briefly consults an medieval alchemical manuscript; then, after jotting down a few notes, sends it back to its prison in the stacks. Unfortunately for Diana, her quick dabbling has unleashed a long suppressed curse—and now only she can break the spell. Carefully researched, this debut novel will appeal to fans of historical novel infused with strong paranormal elements.

Publishers Weekly
In Harkness's lively debut, witches, vampires, and demons outnumber humans at Oxford's Bodleian Library, where witch and Yale historian Diana Bishop discovers an enchanted manuscript, attracting the attention of 1,500-year-old vampire Matthew Clairmont. The orphaned daughter of two powerful witches, Bishop prefers intellect, but relies on magic when her discovery of a palimpsest documenting the origin of supernatural species releases an assortment of undead who threaten, stalk, and harass her. Against all occult social propriety, Bishop turns for protection to tall, dark, bloodsucking man-about-town Clairmont. Their research raises questions of evolution and extinction among the living dead, and their romance awakens centuries-old enmities. Harkness imagines a crowded universe where normal and paranormal creatures observe a tenuous peace. "Magic is desire made real," Bishop says after both her desire and magical prowess exceed her expectations. Harkness brings this world to vibrant life and makes the most of the growing popularity of gothic adventure with an ending that keeps the Old Lodge door wide open. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Diana Bishop is a history scholar—and a witch in denial of her powers. Researching the early beginnings of scientific study in Oxford's Bodleian Library, she unwittingly discovers an ancient tome of alchemy and finds herself attracting a great deal of unwanted attention from a startling array of deamons, witches, and other supernatural beings. Among them is the brilliant (and attractive) vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont. Set in our contemporary world with a magical twist, this sparkling debut by a history professor features a large cast of fascinating characters, and readers will find themselves invested in Diana's success at unlocking the secrets of the manuscript. Although not a nail-biting cliff-hanger, the finale skillfully provides a sense of completion while leaving doors open for the possibility of wonderful sequel adventures. This reviewer, for one, hopes they come soon! VERDICT Destined to be popular with fantasy and paranormal aficionados, this enchanting novel is an essential purchase. Harkness is an author to watch. [Nine-city author tour; the novel will be translated into 32 languages.—Ed.]—Crystal Renfro, Georgia Inst. of Technology Lib., Atlanta
Kirkus Reviews

Harry Potter meets Lestat de Lioncourt. Throw in a time machine, and you've got just about everything you need for a full-kit fantasy.

The protagonist is a witch. Her beau is a vampire. If you accept the argument that we've seen entirely too many of both kinds of characters in contemporary fiction, then you're not alone. Yet, though Harkness seems to be arriving very late to a party that one hopes will soon break up, her debut novel has its merits; she writes well, for one thing, and, as a historian at the University of Southern California, she has a scholarly bent that plays out effectively here. Indeed, her tale opens in a library—and not just any library, but the Bodleian at Oxford, pride of England and the world. Diana Bishop is both tenured scholar and witch, and when her book-fetcher hauls up a medieval treatise on alchemy with "a faint, iridescent shimmer that seemed to be escaping from between the pages," she knows what to do with it. Unfortunately, the library is crammed with other witches, some of malevolent intent, and Diana soon finds that books can be dangerous propositions. She's a bit of a geek, and not shy of bragging, either, as when she trumpets the fact that she has "a prodigious, photographic memory" and could read and write before any of the other children of the coven could. Yet she blossoms, as befits a bodice-ripper no matter how learned, once neckbiter and renowned geneticist Matthew Clairmont enters the scene. He's a smoothy, that one, "used to being the only active participant in a conversation," smart and goal-oriented, and a valuable ally in the great mantomachy that follows—and besides, he's a pretty good kisser, too. "It's a vampire thing," he modestly avers.

Entertaining, though not in the league of J.K. Rowling—or even Anne Rice. But please, people: no more vamps and wizards, OK?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780606267281
  • Publisher: Demco Media
  • Publication date: 12/27/2011
  • Series: All Souls Trilogy, #1
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 592
  • Sales rank: 1,501,645
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Deborah Harkness

Deborah Harkness is a scholar and writer specializing in the history of science and medicine. She has received numerous awards, including Fulbright, Guggenheim, and National Humanities Center fellowships. Currently a professor of history at the University of Southern California, her most recent academic publication is The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution. This is her first novel.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 3905 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 3932 Customer Reviews
  • 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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2011


    Hated this book. And really surprised that I did since I typically like this type of genre. The first half of the book started out great, and then went downhill from there. More and more absurd situations and characters. I found myself so sick of the lead character that I didn't care what happened to her anymore. I just wanted to be done with the book. And when I finally was..WHAT?! How about a heads up that this book is going to end with no real ending? It's obviously setting up for another book but I don't think I could sit through another. I read a lot of the other reviews before I purchased this book, so I was really looking forward to reading it. I am obviously in the minority with my review, though. Thought I would throw in my two cents worth so you would have another perspective on what you might be getting yourself into.

    100 out of 155 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 16, 2011

    Readers beware: the sequel is not yet out

    I was warned by my Pop to never begin a book if you know it will be part of a set that is not yet completed. I have heeded his advice in the past but, unfortunately, I started reading this book before I realized it was set to be a part of a trilogy. By then, it was too late. I was hooked.

    There are elements of the book that remind me of the Lord of the Rings (the idea of different species all having to overcome prejudice to accomplish a goal for example). But the centerpiece of the book is a romance between a witch and a vampire. Oddly enough, I am not usually a fantasy reader, nor do I usually find myself interested in vampires in particular. I worked at a bookstore and banded together with several other booksellers who all refused to read Twilight, for example (because it had become so mainstream). Also, I usually scoff at romance novels because of their cheesy nature and obvious patriarchal stereotypes (I did like the Traveler's Wife, though, so I do enjoy a good romantic story occasionally). When this book came up as a recommended reading, I was in the mood for an escape, so I took a chance on the book. I read some of the negative reviews and can see where they are coming from. If you are trying to find enlightenment through reading material, this probably isn't for you. If you want an enchanting escape from the mundane, on the other hand, I say this is a fantastic choice. But if you are anything like me, you will find yourself getting sucked in and thoroughly frustrated when you realize that you will have to wait for the next in the series to come out. So if you don't want to itch with anticipation, wait a few more years before entering into Deborah Harness' world of witches, demons, vampires, history, mystery and intrigue.

    75 out of 86 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 11, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Very great story line. Very well written. enjoyed this

    Very great story line. Very well written. enjoyed this

    59 out of 63 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Discovery Decidedly Derivative

    I am imagining a corporate brainstorming session. A guy in a suit says "Ok, chicks dig these genre vampire romance series, right? We put a pic of a sexy guy on the front, shovel on the sex, and BOOM you gotta hit. But we can make MORE money by hittin the brainy chicks who won't set foot in the Romance Section cuz they're too classy. So, let's make a high-brow vampire romance for the snooty chicks! Get some brainy girl to write it, keep Fabio OFF the cover, and shelve it in Literature! Cha ching!" I don't know if that's how "Discovery of Witches" came about, but it's a theory not without merit. The plot is a clever amalgam of every tried and true formula out there. Harkness chooses only the most lucrative franchises to pull from. Her first stop is Harry Potter. Nice, unassuming, every-woman heroine whose parents died under mysterious circumstances finds out (surprise) that she has amazing magical powers that she cannot understand or control. Action ensues when these powers are coveted by a coterie of creepy creatures. Thanks, J.K. Rowling! Next stop, Anne Rice's witch and vampire novels. Multigenerational, wacky witch families (Queen of the Damned)? Check! Tall, muscular, sexy vampires with more money than god who run multinational corporations (Interview with the Vampire)? Check! A haunted house whose every decoration is painstakingly described (The Witching Hour)? Check! Now, let's leave Anne Rice and move to the other queen of vampire angst, Stephanie Meyer, and her Twilight Saga. No, Harkness' vamipire doesn't sparkle, but his brooding, tortured silences, his astonishing prettiness, and his desperate need to protect his damsel in distress is perfectly copied in "Discovery"'s Matthew. And these are just the main targets of "Discovery"'s cut-and-paste plotting. There are any number of vampire romances crowding the shelves that share these same themes. All the pulp vampire series draw out the drama of the vampire's need to hide from normal humans. "Discover" covers no new ground here. Every one of the pulps spends time showing the reader the hero/ine's special powers. Harkness sheds no new light here, either. The author has gone to a lot of trouble to copy all of these themes and authors and somehow comes out with a pale, bland story. Someone evidently told her that in order to make her characters three-dimensional she must describe in detail every item of clothing they wear and every cup of tea they consume. We must also slog through a long description of the heroine's yoga class for no apparent reason. I fault not only the author, but her editor who might have spoken up and said, "Honey, cut down on the yoga and tea. Please." To give it credit, there is one way in which this novel deviates from the pattern. There's no sex. At all. Whatsoever. Zero. This is an interesting choice because if Harkness' target demographic is the vampire reader, they expect some sex. Maybe not the erotic free-for-all that Anne Rice's novels offer, but something. "Discover" is the sad result when a novel is conceived as a marketing ploy rather than storytelling. There is not one original idea here.

    52 out of 85 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 2, 2011


    With all the hype and good reviews, I had high expectations for this book. However, half way through, the story really drags, and is rather boring. Loved the beginning, and felt the chemistry between the main characters, but after she meets his mother the story really drags. And she is pathetic in her attempt to avoid her magical powers. It was hard to care about what would happen next, especially with the author going on and on with needless details! Couldn't wait to finish it to be done with it. VERY disappointed and a waste of time.

    45 out of 72 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2011

    after all the hype, what a bust

    Yet another take on vampire-as-hero...but in this case, not only is the vampire heroic, brilliant, erotic, and physically fit, but he is cuddly as well. Within a remarkably short period of time, the female lead morphs from an intelligent Ivy League professor to a sullen teenager. She is infantalized by the vampire, who tells her when to eat and sleep and tucks her in at night. The characters were shallow; peripheral characters were indistinguishable from one another; the plot meandered; and given the failure to come to a resolution at the end of the book, we are in for yet another vampire-cum-otherwordly-creature series. Yawn. Perhaps teenagers in search of another Twilight might enjoy this series, but the rest of us need not waste further time.

    42 out of 71 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Fantastic Hard To Put Down Novel

    This book is just flat out awesome. Sometimes when you pick up a book, within the first few pages you know you're holding something special in your hands. This is one of those books. It is unlike any paranormal novel I've ever read. It's a smart, sophisticated tale of Diana Bishop, the last in a long line of powerful Bishop witches, and Matthew Clairmont, a vampire who has lived 1500 years. It takes place in Oxford, England. Diana is an American professor who's in Oxford researching ancient alchemy books when she calls up Ashmole 782, a manuscript that possibly holds the secrets to the origins of four species: humans, daemons, vampires, and witches. Diana's magical abilities unlock the spell keeping Ashmole 782 from all of those who desperately want it. She quickly sends it away, and the race is on between witches, daemons, and vampires to control Diana and find the manuscript again. Matthew is also after the manuscript, but his growing feelings for Diana soon begin to eclipse his need for the ancient manuscript. And he is the only one who can protect Diana.

    This book is written for an adult audience--wine, alchemy, genetics, and the world of
    the supernatural all combine to put you on the edge of your seat. The novel is long--almost 600 pages, but the story flows along quite nicely, building into an incredible ending. Can Diana tap into her powerful magical abilities in time to save herself and Matthew? Can a vampire and witch break an ancient taboo and be together? Will Ashmole 782 give the answers everyone has been waiting centuries to find?

    You must grab this, sit down, and begin reading this immediately when it comes out in February 2011. It is amazing! And, best of all, it's the first in a trilogy.

    39 out of 49 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2011

    Why and how can people actually read this?

    I am a fan of Anne Rice, never read any of the Twilight crap... This is horrible. I gave it 100 pages and am stopping there. I read so many books, and I can't remember the last time I didn't finish a book. People keep saying they were hooked from the beginning?!? I'm not into witches and vampiers and daemons to put up with this horrible sad excuse for a story. It is just awful and so lame! Grow a brain already and read a decent book! Are people just reading this because it mentions vampires? So sad!

    31 out of 96 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 19, 2011

    more from this reviewer


    This is an epic page turner with a complicated story line and twists and turns over centuries and multiple locations.

    Unfortunately, it does not conclude. 25 pages from the end of the book and I realized that this was just one of what will eventually be a series of books... At least I hope so. Otherwise, we will just wonder what became of these characters. I don't mind reading a series of books, but I prefer to know prior to getting sucked into a book that I expected to conclude.

    The romance portion of the book as a little sappy. A bit much unless you are into over the top, rapidly developing emotions that don't happen in real life. The mystery portion was fascinating, but again there is no conclusion. So many questions are left unanswered. The characters are well developed and completely likable. It was a great read, but it leaves me wanting a resolution to the story lines and there is no information on any additional books that may be writen.

    30 out of 39 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2011

    Slow paced hard to get through

    I read all the time. I have read a ton of great books and I have to say this is not one of them. It is exteremly slow paced. The characters are boring, she goes through every little detail. Let me save you the trouble of reading the first hundred and fifty pages she found a book, a vampire is intrested in her but don't want to admit it, she hates being a witch and she's a librain a hundred and fifty pages and that's it, no action, no anything she takes you on the day to day events going into extreme detail to this point, I can barely turn the next page.

    26 out of 55 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Discovery of Witches the first in the All Souls Trilogy is a masterpiece of literary fiction, filled with factional and fantastical beings brought to us by the lyrical narrative of a most talented storyteller.

    In the beginning there were myths and legends brought about by a smidgen of truth and in that truth we find Historian Diana Bishop at Oxford doing research for an upcoming lecture where she comes across a strange medieval manuscript that's locked not by a physical key but by a magical one, one that will require her to open the door to a painful past that she has stubbornly refused to acknowledge. In the shadows watching is the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont a renowned professor of genetics. Diana and Matthew soon discover that their fierce attraction to each other is not only strange but forbidden as well and they will have challenges to face the least of which is their supposed predisposed mistrust of each other's species. He is a vampire and she is a witch. Will they find the answer they must, will they fight for each other or against each other and will this be a new beginning or the end.

    Deborah Harkness brings us an amazing story filled with fact and fiction, legend and myth and gives us a fantastical twist to the age old question of where do we come from. She brings her story to us using a plot that is both fantastic and easily believed by her audience by adopting historical references and facts and mixing them with occultist beliefs and horror stories. She will mesmerize her readers with her dialogue so much so that the almost 600 pages will fly by in the blink of a witches eye. She takes us to magical and real places with effortless and picturesque descriptive narrative as we live vicariously the lives of her characters through our eyes by her words. She also gives us characters none of which we've ever experienced before by making them unbelievable and real at the same time and by giving them the substance they need to make them unforgettable to her readers. The characters will each tell you their own story interspersed into the novel so that they all become an important part of the whole. Our hero Matthew and heroine Diana are two of the most unlikely lovers ever to grace the pages of a book and they will quickly become part of your must read again and again tales. Her romance is innocent and reminiscent of times long ago while also being sensual as to appeal to today's most critical reader. But this is much more than just a romance it's an epic tale that will alter your ideas of good vs evil, it's a mystery of historic proportion and is filled with the fantasy that readers today can't seem to get enough of.

    So fill all of your fantasies in one read and give yourself over to the care of this amazing storyteller for the duration of her book and relish in the knowledge that there's more to come. Make this a must read for 2011 and I promise you won't be sorry.
    I hate to put this novel in a box of likes because there's nothing out there really like it so instead if you are a fan of Diana Gabaldon, JR Ward and Karen Marie Moning you will love this book and also fans of The Historian, Dracula and Dracula the Undead will love the fantasy in this one.

    26 out of 34 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2011


    why would some one write a review bashing readers who liked and enjoyed this book? To me, that sends a message ignorance of the poster...her review only made the book more interesting to me and I am sure to others who dislike these kinds of reviews...

    24 out of 41 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 6, 2011

    Starts Well, but Then Gets Too Familiar.... Twilight Cloned

    This book started well, then got too familiar (SPOILER ALERT) - a series of books (yep, certainly more planned), where a solitary female meets a dishy vampire in a school setting, then she learns all about his vampire family, his endless wealth, his passion for fast cars, then there are obstacles to them as a couple, and otherworldly creatures fighting them, then there is the question of them having children... and so the dishy vampire is happy to wait and wait to consumate the relationship, while the solitary female aches after him and pursues him, though he is dangerous... and then on page 493, the female says "and now twilight is my favorite time of day." Well, no kidding as the plot of this book follows the "Twilight" story so closely that I expected to find a picture of Stephanie Meyer on the book jacket, writing under a pen name. Not so, but certainly Ms Meyer should be alerted. It starts well, with lots of details about researching in obscure college libraries, then gets far too familiar (and not the witches' familiar, though of course there is a cat in the witches' home), and then more familiar still. The "love" scenes seem to have been written in the 1890's, they are cringe-worthy, unbelievable and very bad all round - so again, very close to Ms Meyer's style. Clearly written to attract Hollywood script money, and not the intelligent reader. The plot is WAY too close to "Twilight" for comfort. Sadly, not recommended unless you don't know the "Twilight" story, then you might think it's new. It's just "Twilight" cloned, and really disappointing. Skip it.

    23 out of 42 people found this review helpful.

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  • 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 February 5, 2011

    Great witchy fun! couldn't put it down

    This book was so good I lost sleep over it! And then when I did sleep I'd dream about it some more! All the trouble starts when the main character calls up a library book that's been lost for, oh.. a few hundred years! After that everything starts to go downhill, with other witches, daemons and vampires getting involved, she's faced with the fight of her life. This book was like Anne Rice meets Sharon Shinn meets Dan Brown lol, you won't be disappointed!

    20 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2011


    I loved the characters and the magic. The story drew me in. I can't wait to read the next one.

    17 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 22, 2011

    A bad take on Twilight

    It started with such promise then dragged into a poor redo of Twilight. There was the sensitive vampire and the seemingly fragile heroine with special powers that she didn't know how to use. A 587 page book that doesn't end and is blatantly one of many more to come. Reread the Twilight series and skip this.

    16 out of 40 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 18, 2011

    this book is awful....

    .... and I'm not talking about the price of the nook book (which is a bit high.) This is marketed as a romance but I'm not sure that the author has ever read a romance novel or understand how develop characters or their relationships. It's as if she's just trying to cash in on the whole vampire/paranormal novel craze and thinks we are too stupid to realize it.

    16 out of 42 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 10, 2011


    After reading the reviews and sample of the book, I was hooked. Then I got the book. It went downhill from there. No action, no plot, not very likable characters. I kept waiting for something to happen, and it occasionally would hint at something but it was over in a flash and then we were back to reading how Diana likes to drink tea, and nap and does not have any decent clothes. And Matthew, if he ruffled his hair, once, he did it a thousand more times and we were informed of it everytime. For two characters who were supposed to be soulmates, there was no chemistry between them. Diana starts out as a strong, independent, tenured professor whose career is important to her. Then she meets Matthew, the brooding, beautiful vampire (bossy and not so nice also) and she just gives everything up to follow him and becomes this weak, helpless female. For a character who is supposedly the most powerful witch of them all, she can't be bothered to learn spells or make potions, though she is studying alchemy. I didn't find her character likeable or belivable.

    15 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

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