A Discovery of Witches

By Deborah Harkness,

Book cover of A Discovery of Witches

Book description

In this tale of passion and obsession, Diana Bishop, a young scholar and a descendant of witches, discovers a long-lost and enchanted alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, deep in Oxford's Bodleian Library. Its reappearance summons a fantastical underworld, which she navigates with her leading man, vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont.

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Why read it?

14 authors picked A Discovery of Witches as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

A Discovery of Witches is an exciting journey! Deborah Harkness masterfully weaves together history, science, and fantasy to create a captivating story that will keep you guessing until the  end. The book is filled with layers of clues and mysteries that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The characters are well-developed, and the romance between Diana and Matthew is both compelling and heart-wrenching. I couldn't put the book down and I can't wait to dive into the  next installment. This book is a true page-turner, and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good mystery…

A Discovery of Witches was an interesting take on the “other” species, witches, vampires, and demons living with and among humans. There was in this trilogy quite a bit of ancient history woven in among the fantastical storylines of the characters of Harkness’ world. While I was expecting another “Twilight” trope and having to get on board with “Team Jacob” or “Team Edward” – this was nothing like Bella and Edward. This series was a great blending of real-world events intertwined with the invented worlds of the “others”. I enjoyed getting to know the characters and had my favorites. I…

From Suzanne's list on fantasy binge reads.

I love the richness of this fantasy world within our own. The magic system follows rules, but, like life, those rules are not absolute. The characters, as highly intelligent people, do a lot of research and experimenting to discover how to work around these non-absolute rules to, what else? Defeat evil of course. 

From Samantha's list on epic world building in fantasy.

Diana Bishop is a professor of history at Yale University pursuing her doctorate at Oxford. She’s also a witch who has never cared to develop her powers. Enter the world of vampires, daemons, English manor homes, French castles, the Bodleian Library, old farmhouses in Massachusetts, alchemy, the history of science—even an enchanted manuscript.

I love this story because it’s an example of how smart, hard-working women can find love in the most unexpected of places. Harkness has created a fantastical world complete with engaging characters you’d like to befriend, characters I was sorry to leave after turning the last page.…

From Bronwyn's list on fabulous femmes in fantastical settings.

I’d always had this idea that magic and science go hand in hand. It’s not about believing one over the other but about how they work in conjunction. A Discovery of Witches is the first book I read that embraces this concept and in the most compelling way possible. Through the lens of a unique witch named Diana and a centuries-old vampire, Harkness takes us on a journey of creation, ancient magic, and forbidden love (and who doesn’t love some of that?)

I’ve repeatedly consumed the entire All Souls Trilogy in its various formats. This is because A Discovery of Witches is not your typical twinkle-skinned romance of a vampire story. Harkness intellectually substantiates vampire, witch, and demon lore with biological references, realistically grounding old wives’ tales in temptingly believable “research” without making it read like a textbook. Although the creatures find themselves embroiled in an existential battle against pureblood obsessives and a star-crossed love story, they are richer for the interplay between their cultures, family dynamics, and the secrets they must and choose to keep. This renders them relatable on a…

A Discovery of Witches swept me off my feet as a reader! Harkness’s prose is gorgeous, and as an avid highlighter of my favorite lines, my physical copies of her books are dripping with ink! It’s a love story between a reluctant witch and a vampire, but so much more than that with a strong influence of science, along with a mysterious lost book. The characters are complex and rich—even the side characters! This isn’t your YA, teeny-bobber urban fantasy; it’s grown up, smart, sophisticated, and completely addicting. 

Once you devour the rest of the All Souls series, check out…

From Katy's list on a fresh new take on urban fantasy.

I was hooked on the series within minutes of reading the first pages of the first book. I loved the romance between Dianna and Mathew and how it spun out in a contemporary setting. Harkness’ take on searching for the supernatural version of “On the Origin of the Species,” is such a great premise for a book. The story sends the characters off in search of lost objects and into battles with shrewd foes across centuries and continents in which different supernatural species—vampires, witches, and demons—must cooperate with one another, or face extinction. The best part of the series though,…

Book one in the All Souls series introduces us to a world where witches, vampires, and demons live veiled lives within the same world as mortals but with strict and ruthlessly enforced rules governing their interactions with each other and humans. The main character, Diana Bishop, is from a witch family but is unable to practice magic herselfuntil she summons a long-lost book, gaining the attention of many magical beings, including vampire, Matthew Clairmont. At its heart this book is romantic suspense with an intricate plot line that spans generations and centuries. While not a young adult title,…

This book had me at the outset with an old, magical manuscript that stirs up the otherworldly beings and binds a witch and a vampire together—I love that witches get their due here! Descended from a long line of witches, Diana Bishop is the only one who can break the spell, despite her resistance to the task. Harkness made her writing debut with this book, and it has all the magic, strong female characters, and beautiful prose to keep me enthralled. Great show too!

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