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Publisher's Summary

Now a major Sky original production.

The number on international and Sunday Times best seller.

A Discovery of Witches is the first in the must-have, must-listen All Souls trilogy. 

It begins with absence and desire. It begins with blood and fear. It begins with a discovery of witches.

Diana Bishop, a young scholar and 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 must navigate with a vampire, Matthew Clairmont.

This manuscript, Ashmole 782, holds the secrets of their past...and the key to their future. 

©2011 Deborah Harkness (P)2011 Deborah Harkness

Critic Reviews

"Intelligent and off-the-wall, it will be irresistible to Twilight fans." (The Sunday Times)

"Write what you know, debut novelists are told and Professor Deborah Harkness has accordingly set hers in the world of academia…. A bubbling cauldron of illicit desire…. all the ingredients for an assured saga that blends romance with fantasy." (Daily Mail)

"A romp through magical academia." (Guardian)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastically captivating

I didn't think I was going to find another book(s) that engrossed me like the OUTLANDER series by Diana Gabeldon and Davina porter. ......but my goodness THIS series of books did it..and even perhaps more. Brilliant flow of imaginative writing that was captivating. Exciting tasteful romance that pulsed and pulsed and had me hooked, strong intriguing characters that were easily liked or disliked as the author wished and Imaginative narration that made listening to this series outstanding. Thank you.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lyn
  • 19-05-2015

Great Read!

Follow the forbidden love story of Diana, the reluctant witch and Matthew, the distant, but charming vampire, who fall in love while on the quest to find the meaning of life. The ancient text, Ashmole 782 holds the key to the origin of species: witches, vampires, daemons and humans surfaces on Diana's request, but mysteriously goes missing.
Deborah Harkness weaves her magic as the mystery and love story unfold, taking the reader to great heights. Well worth the read of this first in the All Souls Trilogy.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Controlling disturbing relationship

Great narrator.

Story with good potential

Terrible relationship spoils it all for me.

Minor spoilers ahead.

I’d kept hoping this book would improve. Diana is intelligent, independent and powerful and I kept hoping she would unleash her power or at least Stand up to Matthew.

Instead the red flags in their relationship get more disturbing and are framed as romance. Matthew gets more controlling of her and I couldn’t go any further when about half way through he grabs her pushes her onto the couch and tells her he will kill her before allowing anyone else to hurt her. This is not long after he man handles her off a horse because he didn’t like the way she was riding. Gee how romantic.

Seriously. Narratives like this help abusive relationships begin and continue. It is harmful to frame a mans control and treating you like a helpless child as romantic because he just cares so much about you.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Yawn. Not for me.

I’m sure there’d be loads of people who’d love this book, especially if they hadn’t read Twilight. It was a very similar story. If I had been reading it myself I wouldn’t have made it past the first couple of chapters. I stuck it out, but have no compulsion to find out what happens next. If I never hear Ashmole 782 again I won’t be sorry.
What a talented narrator. So many different accent.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Intense

I have read this book, many years ago..I loved it then..Now I find it even better...I find it very descriptive and very intense... I love it and found it very difficult to put down..Thank you for the experience again..

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

sigh

loved it. great narrator. so good being able to relisten instead of reread. of only the t.v. series was like it is in my head...

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Top notch

I wasn’t sure of this book, but I gave it a go and love it. Can’t wait for the next two.
Absolutely great and you can’t put it down

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • dee
  • 17-10-2018

Loved it!

This book was different to anything I’ve ever read..very refreshing!!
Read it, listen to it...you won’t be disappointed

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

So much more than I was expecting

It's essentially a love story and includes some fairly archaic masculine/feminine conventions but the breadth of research across historical, medical, alchemical, religious and geographical fields is beyond enchanting. The narration is fantastic despite the extremely challenging array of accents required ... they aren't exactly accurate but aren't too distracting either. Great holiday book.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Fun story, good characters.

I enjoyed this, the narrator was great and I liked the characters. looking forward to the plot developing a more next book.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Eleanor
  • 30-04-2012

Wonderful book

Absolutely adored this book. Erudite, dripping with history, wonderful and funny writing - could not put it down. The whole idea of the book is fascinating - make you look at people and on the street and wonder "Are they........?" Will not spoil it, but her theory could explain why psychiatry does not really work all the time!! The narrator Jennifer Ikeda was excellent....was able to do a variety of accents - a very creditable Australian accent, which so few seem able to manage, French (ancient and modern) and a Glaswegian accent!!!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • GinnysHex
  • 05-10-2011

Wonderful

I read the book before I bought the audiobook and though I enjoyed the book greatly I love the audiobook even more. I loved the different accents Jennifer Ikeda did for the characters and I hope that when Deborah Harkness finishes and release the next book that Jennifer Ikeda will do the next one as well.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • zoe
  • 21-03-2011

Mesmirising characters and story

This was the first book i have listened to by Deborah Harkness. I had no expectations, and i have been pleasantly surprised. I love the way the story melds together modern life and witchcraft with strong romance between the 2 main characters. The only negative about the audiobook is the narrator, which is a small negative and is easily forgotten about when drawn into the story, unfortunately she changes her pitch in quite unexpected places where its not necessary. All in all its an intriguing story, I definitely recommend it.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Rae
  • 28-04-2012

Loved it.

Any additional comments?

Narration was excellent. Like to list narration first as it can make or break a story.

Love the story and will be looking forward to the next installment.

I really enjoy it when readers with similar reading interests list their favourite authors and series. It really helps me find new authors too follow. Mine are Charlaine Harris, Jeaniene Frost, Jennifer Estep, Faith Hunter, Molly Harper, Ilona Andrews, Kresley Cole, Deborah Harkness, Nalini Singh.

Happy Reading

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Caroline
  • 04-04-2012

Only stopped listening to sleep!

Any additional comments?

This is the first time I felt I needed to write about any of the books I have listened to and I have been listening to audio books for four years, now it seems I am lost for words. This is a highly addictive story with full characters that you will become attached too. Jennifer Ikeda spins the story with beauty and care making it difficult to stop listening even when I was falling asleep. I cannot wait for the next book to continue this amazing journey.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Melissa
  • 25-04-2011

More More More

Loved the story. Loved the narrator. This is my first Deborah Harkness book....come on Audible, we need more of this author!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Lizzy
  • 19-12-2011

Not normally my cup of team but ....

This is not something I would normally bother with. Vampires and witches - really! However, I really did enjoy this book very much. The story wasn't predictable and the characters were almost human.

I particularly liked the conflict between the different creatures. Similar to prejudices we face in real life with race and culture. The moral is that nothing is too great that it can't be overcome.

Highly recommend this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Linda
  • 23-06-2011

Great

I loved listening to this story. The open ended final chapter leaves plenty of scope for a sequel...........please!!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Tracey
  • 21-10-2011

Interesting but not captivating

I love a good vampire story, and although this was an original take, it did not live up to my expectations! Jennifer Ikeda's voice could have been more expressive. I got the impression of straight faces and serious expressions even when they were supposed to be happy! I loved the idea of the book, Ashmore 783 but the love story got priority. It got a little more interesting toward the end but I doubt I will bother with the next book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Christian Steinmann
  • 15-11-2018

Amazing had the time of my life

Going binge listing to them all. Jennifer gives a stunning performance with the different voices and accents.. Entertaining as hell.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Caroline Marks
  • 01-03-2011

A surprisingly mature paranormal romance

What strikes me most about this novel is its intelligence. The author pays her readers the compliment of assuming they are intelligent and will keep up. It's packed with references to history, mythology, genetics and the human genome project, philosophy, Yoga and Eastern spiritualism, traditional values vs feminism, natural history...the discussion of how alchemical principles might have inspired Darwin's theory of evolution is simply brilliant. And on top of that, it has an engaging plot, rounded characters, an original take on the genre and a satisfying ending that nonetheless leaves me eager for the sequel.

The central romance between Diana Bishop, a witch, and Matthew Clairmont, a vampire, develops slowly. These characters aren't teenagers and their relationship is complex and convincing: no love-at-first-sight or adolescent babblings about unconditional love. They aren't soulmates; in fact they have some serious personality conflicts that aren't fully resolved by the end. Diana's independence doesn't sit well with Matthew's old-fashioned values and protective nature. But they work these things out.

Their relationship plays out against a backdrop of a supernatural world that lives within our own. The 'creatures' do their best to keep their existence a secret from humans but don't always seem to succeed.

If the novel has a fault, it's a bit heavy on the exposition, sometimes at the expense of moving the plot onward. Occasionally, significant events are kind of rushed through, with minimal detail, which when it's an audiobook means if your attention wanders, you can miss important information. Also, the narrator really should have learned how to pronouce the names of the Oxford colleges; the mispronunciation is really irritating but that's only in the first act.

I really enjoyed this novel and recommend it to any reader who is, like me, tired of the Twilight-clones. This has superficial similarities to Twilight, but it's a far superior work.

80 of 82 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • kerry jacobs
  • 02-03-2011

Enthralled

I really loved this book and cant wait for the authur to produce a sequel. It was pure fantasy and escapism. The narrator is also very good, it was most enjoyable and got me through hours of sewing in a world of my own.

Thank you

33 of 35 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Robyn
  • 24-06-2011

Enjoyed this!

I am unashamedly a Twighlight fan. This book is not Twilight....it's more grown up, possibly a little darker. Still, I found it equally enjoyable on the whole fantasy/vampire/witches side of things, and am eagerly anticipating the next book in the series....

The narrator's accent takes some getting used to - but it doesn't distract from the story too much.

21 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amanda
  • 23-06-2011

Totally absorbing

Despite the surfeit of books on witches and vampires currently around I found this one totally addictive. The dog was walked rather more frequently than usual when I was listening to this. Based, to start with, in my home city of Oxford it moved on to France and then the USA. A witch who doesn't want to be a witch falling in love with a vampire who is of course wonderfully handsome and clever and rich. I found it amazingly believable and my only complaint was the US pronounciation of 'herbs' as 'erbs' which irritated me - but that's my only complaint! Brilliant book!

18 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Mr. D. V. Carruthers
  • 05-06-2011

A 24 hour long overture.

Painful.
On the positive side: The characters are quite good and after the book was finished I was actually quite interested to know what happened to them
On the negative side: As other's have said NOTHING HAPPENS. It's basically a 24 hour scene setting for the next book. When it stopped I immediately checked my library as I thought I hadn't downloaded the final part. Unfortunately as I've given up 24 hours listening to the intro it's very likely that I'll listen to the next one whenever it comes out as it can't surely be as slow as this one. Can it?
My wife is listening to it now and she has exactly the same comments. 18 hours in and still waiting for it to 'start'.
Should compress all this in the first 3 hours then write the rest of a decent book.

Plus the *worst* scottish accent I've ever heard that nearly ruined the book for me.

In summary: 3 hours of action spread across 24 hours, but if you make it to the end, you'll probably want to read the next one whenever it appears.

17 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Madeleine
  • 02-03-2011

Stunned

Like a lot of paranormal romance, this isn't very well written. There are some interesting premises but also some huge flaws. We are told the main character, Dianna, is beautiful, ridiculously young, has a soaring IQ and a PhD in History from Yale but does inexplicably moronic thing after moronic thing to save the author's ass from some very dodgy plotting. The main love interest is - well, what you'd expect for this sort of a thing - dark, tall, handsome and shallowly drawn. Very much like Twilight, we are left to puzzle why a 1,500 year-old vampire would be remotely interested in the MC. In this case, the explanation is a combo of genetics and fate. It sure isn't her uncanny analytical skills.

However, considering the genre, none of these things would cause me to give the book such a low rating.

What did is was that, after suffering through 23 hours of an unnecessarily convoluted set of sub-plots that never resolve, the listener is left completely in the lurch. I'm not joking. 23 hours of NOTHING HAS HAPPENED YET.

Obviously Ms Harkness is planning on a series. After suffering through some truly nauseating purple prose (no one can actually just walk anywhere, they have to scuttle, scamper or prowl), the lack of anything remotely resembling even partial resolution was truly infuriating. It's a real breach of trust between writer and reader.

I won't be stupid enough to spend my money or time on any sequel. If the author didn't know better, the editor or the publisher should have.

58 of 71 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Claudia
  • 14-03-2011

almost speechless

Run-of-the-mill. More explicit than Twilight (these are consenting adults after all) yet less offensive than some people might find Ann Rice.

Plot is drawn-out and prose is rather hard to stomach in places. The characters are shallow and one-dimensional. The author clearly sees no value in feminist thought or doesn't understand it, as the main female character is rapidly infantelised and the main male character is given the psychological depth of a dog. The setting keeps the reader in an aristocrat bubble, further reducing this novel to being a slightly wet, albeit elaborate, teenage daydream.

That said, I enjoyed the first third, which is interesting enough and even witty in places, although the latter may well be due to Jennifer Ikeda endearing way of performing accents.

27 of 34 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Boggle31
  • 14-04-2011

Oh dear

Why is it always the same! This book starts out with a (fairly) strong willed and intelligent lead female. The story however quikly degenerates into scene after scene of bad choices resulting in predictable rescues.
The problem with this book, when everything is stripped away, is two dimensional characters and a confused plot. You cannot have a woman in your lead who is strong willed and intelligent making such innane comments and choices. Aside from a plot line that never irons itself out, there are characters who seem to act without any real in-depth motivation. This book lost me when I began tutting at the lead characters comments and feeling more and more annoyed with them. You cannot empathise with a character that unfortunately leaves you frustrated 90% of the time.
The premise shows some foresight and originality, but it is poorly executed with its mind set on a sequal rather than making it a complete piece of fiction in its own right. No one expects this to be Shakespeare, but within its genere it really only ever manages to stay in its genre and does nothing original or new. In the end it is a story that only ever really ends up being generic. Such a shame

19 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Dominic
  • 16-03-2011

Ponderous

Good idea but never really goes anywhere, just fades away

12 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Janet
  • 30-08-2014

Soppy, simpering

What disappointed you about A Discovery of Witches?

The fact that what should be an extremely intelligent woman is reduced to a pathetic, simpering mess

What was most disappointing about Deborah Harkness’s story?

Very repetitive sentiments

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Jennifer Ikeda?

I did not like Jennifer's voice but the story was too stodgy to expect anyone to make a good job of it.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from A Discovery of Witches?

The descriptive sexual elements

Any additional comments?

Too many random characters that do not enhance the plot or the storyline.

14 of 18 people found this review helpful