A Discovery of Witches
[a Novel]Book - 2011
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.
From the critics
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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.
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.
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jkranz8 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 16 and 99
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“Just because something seems impossible doesn’t make it untrue”
― Deborah Harkness, A Discovery of Witches