A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches

Book - 2011
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Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery, so she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library.
Publisher: New York : Viking, c2011
ISBN: 9780670022410
0670022411
Branch Call Number: SF HARKNESS
Characteristics: 579 p. ; 24 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

UK launch is in 2018. No release date announced for the US.

I highly recommend trying out the audiobook for this one! An orphaned witch learning to control her power, a dark wizard, time travel, romance...this is SO much more than just a vampire book! But it's absolutely acceptable if you just want to read it for the vampires.

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ArapahoeMarie Feb 05, 2017

This book had me from the first page and I couldn't wait to check out the next in the trilogy. It's a well written adventure centered around ancient manuscripts, witches, vampires, demons, and science...what is not to love?!


From the critics


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c
catherineband
Jul 17, 2018

This is one of maybe three or four books that I hate with every fiber of my being. I hate nothing more than a book that claims it is something that it is not, or that its characters are something they are not. In this case, the heroine is billed as “smart” and yet she falls into every single stereotype imaginable, and while she’s studying at Oxford, and we’re supposed to believe how she’s smart, she never does anything intelligent or makes a smart decision. The heroine bears an eerie resemblance to the author herself, as if she just wanted to make a perfect version of herself and live out some fantasy. The love interest, a vampire named Matthew, is also a shallowly developed character, with no truly endearing features apart from like, his beautiful breath (I am not kidding about this).

I think the world could be relatively interesting. I wish the author spent more time developing this than describing Matthew’s breath. There’s an interesting concept about how science and magic are connected, and I think that’s a cool idea. But it just kind of… fizzles away, and the whole plot becomes secondary to the budding romance. There are so many elements clumsily thrown together in a disorganized hodgepodge of a plot. Think of a stereotype, any stereotype. It’s there. It's thriving. It's almost comical.

I want to really be mean about this book, and so everything past this point is going to have some SPOILERS. There are serious flaws, and I can’t really illustrate what’s wrong with this book without discussing them.

1. Characters. -Diana. She’s smart! She’s pretty! She rows! Colleagues respect her, and clearly want to date her. Despite this, she’s irrationally weird about magic, kind of oblivious to everyone who’s stalking her (except Matthew and his breath). She just sort of exists as a placeholder. Of course, though she doesn’t use magic, naturally she’s super powerful and perfect. She gets EVERY POWER EVER, including time travel. -Matthew! Guys, he literally has known EVERY HISTORICAL FIGURE EVER. Everrrrrrrr. Science, religion, art, you name it. There is no limit to what he knows and has experiences. How convenient! He’s got a rich family, who of course tolerate and seem to like Diana. I will say, I liked Diana’s aunts. They were the best, and most believable/realistic characters, in the book. If there was a better book, written by someone else, in this universe, about them… I’d probably read that.
2. Plot. It sounds exciting, but it isn’t. Magic, and vampires, and missing books, and all that but… Diana spends a lot of time rowing and going to yoga and not doing magic. Then a bunch of weird stuff just… happens. It ends with… time travel.
3. Romance. So, I am not a romance reader, and have tried to be fair here. If I like a plot, some romance can really supplement and enhance the story. Here, the weird romance devours every semblance of a plot and story. Matthew, despite being so beautiful, is mean and stomps all over Diana every time she disobeys him, and she doesn’t really care at that point. And this is all dismissed as part of the “that’s how vampires are!” trope. They were like… surprise married. I know, it doesn’t make sense. There is some bit at the end and they blather on and on about how vampires can’t have natural children or something and she’s been drinking contraceptive tea, so of course I expect that Diana will become pregnant. Probably twins.

I’ll stop now. This should be enough.

j
janineganger
Jul 03, 2018

I could not put it down! The entire series is great. I wish she would write something else - but it seems like she is still riding this shooting star.

l
laurenn812
Jul 03, 2018

It's good long enough to get you invested in the plot and then she falls in love with a vampire and it's like a bad Twilight fanfic from there..

JCLAmandaW Mar 28, 2018

The author creates a story with characters that you enjoy coming back to. At times the story seems a little slow and you wonder how they can be focused so entirely on one thing when other major events are going on, but overall this was an interesting beginning to the trilogy. I'm hooked and half-way through the second one now.

j
janicesaunders
Feb 27, 2018

Loved this series!

a
adm60dng2
Nov 02, 2017

This book is a fun read. It is complete FANTASY. It has romance, suspense and is funny at times. Really enjoyed it. It was actually better the 2nd time read because that's when the details and layers make it so much more interesting.

m
mpot
Jun 12, 2017

A solid Story. Leaves you wanting more, and sure enough, there's a second volume. Yay!

j
jcosner13
Mar 16, 2017

You'll never think of witches and vampires the same ever again! This is a "grown-up" version of Twilight. The science balances the story and makes it more realistic.

t
tosenbaugh
Mar 10, 2017

This book took me a few chapters to get into but after that, I was hooked and on to the second in the series!

c
crystalpatterson
Feb 22, 2017

Agreeing with the other commenters who voted this on low. I love the idea, but it gets pretty cheesy. There is so much fog. So much rowing. It's just not for me.

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k
ksimicmuller
Jul 24, 2016

When reading this book, I constantly fluctuated between wondering why I was reading it and not being able to put it down. Some parts I really didn't care for -- I am not a huge fan of romance in my fantasy books, but others, like the description of witches and their talents was pretty great. The book takes place in a world where witches, vampires, and daemons exist alongside humans, but are not allowed to mingle each other. This all changes when the heroine, a witch who has been denying her witchcraft, discovers a manuscript that everyone is looking for, and meets a dashing vampire. I admit, I will be reading the second book in the series soon. I also admit that it's not the best witchcraft novel I have ever read. I much preferred Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

AnneDromeda Oct 24, 2011

Diana Bishop is a witch in denial. An orphan born to a prominent witch family, she's ignoring her magical heritage to pour her energy into academia. She's travelled to Oxford's Bodleian Library to research a lecture she's giving on alchemy - but when she orders up one ancient manuscript, she unwittingly unleashes a maelstrom of supernatural power. Soon, she can't walk to her study carrel without tripping over some witch, vampire or demon brimming with curiosity or malicious intent. One such creature is Matthew Clairmont, a handsome fellow academic with a sanguine disposition. As other supernatural creatures become more threatening, Diana finds herself warily grateful for the help he offers. Can she survive the powers she's unleashed to become the witch she's meant to be? Is the real Matthew the kind, chivalrous man she's come to know, or the bloodthirsty hunter of whom she finds hints? The answers to these questions will determine the fate of the uneasy worldwide peace between witches, demons, vampires and humans.<br />

Like *Harry Potter*, *A Discovery of Witches* features an orphaned witch with latent legendary powers who encounters a great evil. It shares a great sense of mythology and place, too – you can practically smell the Bodleian when you're reading, and Oxford almost becomes extra character in the book. Diana's aunts' bewitched home in Wisconsin shares the same haunted architectural quirks readers loved in Hogwarts. And, like *Twilight*, an apparently-doomed romance with plenty of sexual tension and a sense of destiny takes centre stage in the action (but be forewarned: readers frustrated by the unresolved tension or the gender politics in *Twilight* will find themselves pretty annoyed with this book, too). This first book in the *All Souls* trilogy will also appeal to readers who enjoy the time travel elements and exhaustive research of authors like Diana Gabaldon (*Outlander* series) and Susanna Kearsley (*The Winter Sea*, *Marianna*). Other potential appeal factors include emphases on yoga, literature, and serious wine and book collecting. A great story to pick up for Hallowe'en, you'd best read the book now while the hold list is short, because the movie rights have already been purchased by Warner Bros. Oh, and good news for your future addiction issues: The second book, *Shadow of Night*, is anticipated for a summer 2012 release.

beauty1492 Jun 27, 2011

frist in Trilogy--All Souls Trilogy next novel 2012

driffle Jun 05, 2011

Slow at the beginning but reached a point where I didn't want to put it down. Can't wait for next book in series!

Age

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jkranz8 Mar 24, 2015

jkranz8 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 16 and 99

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bribear
Oct 07, 2012

bribear thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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Faize
Jun 27, 2012

Faize thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Quotes

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jkranz8 Mar 24, 2015

“Just because something seems impossible doesn’t make it untrue”
― Deborah Harkness, A Discovery of Witches

a
astral_drop
Aug 14, 2012

‎"He was not of an age but for all time"___Ben Jonson

Notices

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jkranz8 Mar 24, 2015

Sexual Content: Not much in book one but a little bit in book 2 & 3.

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