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A Discovery of Witches
by Deborah Harkness

Overview -

A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

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.  Read more...


 
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More About A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
 
 
 
Overview

A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

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 after a furtive glance and a few notes, 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. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series -- with an extra serving of historical realism.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780670022410
  • ISBN-10: 0670022411
  • Publisher: Viking Books
  • Publish Date: February 2011
  • Page Count: 592
  • Reading Level: Ages 18-UP

Series: All Souls Trilogy #1

Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Fantasy - Paranormal
Books > Fiction > Fantasy - Epic

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2010-11-08
  • Reviewer: Staff

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.)

 
BookPage Reviews

Magic, myth and mystery

In Deborah Harkness’ debut novel, A Discovery of Witches, Diana Bishop learns firsthand just how important a single book can be. When Diana, a reserved historian, calls up a bewitched manuscript from the archives of the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, she has no idea how this simple act will change her life. Although she herself is a witch, Diana denies her power and shuns the society of fellow witches and wizards, so she has no notion of the importance of the alchemical tome she has summoned. Diana is the first person in centuries to have successfully retrieved Ashmole 782, long sought by witches, demons and vampires alike, and her unwitting accomplishment soon earns her plenty of unwanted notice, including that of Matthew Clairmont, a fellow researcher with an interest in Ashmole 782, who just happens to be a 1,500-year-old vampire. The two enter into an uneasy alliance in order to prevent the text from falling into the wrong hands, but before long, their entire world is thrown into upheaval as loyalties and lives are risked. In order for them to prevail, Diana must come to terms with her true self and harness the power she has long kept locked inside. The question is, will she have the courage and strength to do so?

With books about fictional witches, it’s all too easy to fall back on tongue-in-cheek descriptors like “enchanting” or “spellbinding,” but both adjectives aptly describe the superbly entertaining saga Harkness has crafted. This is a riveting tale full of romance and danger that will have you on the edge of your seat, yet its chief strength lies in the wonderfully rich and ingenious mythology underlying the story. Entwining strands of science and history, Harkness creates a fresh explanation for how such creatures could arise that is so credible, you’ll have to keep reminding yourself this is fiction.

A Discovery of Witches is a captivating tale that will ensnare the heart and imagination of even the most skeptical reader. This fantastic first novel will leave you anxious for the next installment, and sad to leave the remarkable world Harkness has created. Simply put, A Discovery of Witches is literary magic at its most potent.

 
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