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  • A Discovery of Witches

  • A Novel
  • Written by: Deborah Harkness
  • Narrated by: Jennifer Ikeda
  • Length: 23 hrs and 59 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (1,310 ratings)
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A Discovery of Witches

Written by: Deborah Harkness
Narrated by: Jennifer Ikeda
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Publisher's Summary

Book one of the New York Times best-selling All Souls Series—"a wonderfully imaginative grown-up fantasy with all the magic of Harry Potter and Twilight” (People).

Now “[a] hot show that’s like Twilight meets Outlander” (Thrillist) airing on AMC and BBC America, as well as streaming on Sundance Now and Shudder.

Deborah Harkness’s sparkling debut, A Discovery of Witches, has brought her into the spotlight and galvanized fans around the world. 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.

Harkness has created a universe to rival those of Anne Rice, Diana Gabaldon, and Elizabeth Kostova, and she adds a scholar's depth to this riveting tale of magic and suspense. The story continues in book two, Shadow of Night, book three, The Book of Life, and the fourth in the series, Time’s Convert.

©2011 Deborah Harkness (P)2011 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

“A wonderfully imaginative grown-up fantasy with all the magic of Harry Potter or Twilight.... An irresistible tale of wizardry, science and forbidden love.” (People)   

“Romantic, erudite, and suspenseful.... Harkness attends to every scholarly and emotional detail with whimsy, sensuality, and humor.” (O, The Oprah Magazine

“A thoroughly grown-up novel packed with gorgeous historical detail and a gutsy, brainy heroine to match.... Harkness writes with thrilling gusto about the magical world.” (Entertainment Weekly

Editorial Review

A world of magic, witches and wonder created just for adults in mind. What could be better for fantasy book lovers everywhere?

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness is the perfect story for fantasy fans looking for something a little more grown-up. This dark magic story is a blend of adventure and romance novels, weaving the genres together for a perfect combination. Harkness builds a complex and imaginative world within Elizabethan London. She places her characters, like vampire Matthew Clairmont, laying the groundwork for the universe in which magic, vampires, daemons and blood rage are the norms.

Harkness has gained a strong following, with avid fans flocking to her works and this series of ‘witches’ stories. The book became so popular that it inspired a TV series. The TV show was a resounding success and has brought many new fans to the original book and audiobook series. This enthralling magical world is full of dark secrets and enticing characters. From geneticists to vampire congregations, reluctant witches and historians, there are enough dark characters and sinister scenes and ample romance to get your heart racing.

This Audible audiobook adaptation is narrated by Jennifer Ikeda, who performs the story spectacularly, effortlessly weaving in and out of various voices and accents as she plays each character’s role. Entertaining, enticing and full of mystery, this is a must-add to any fantasy lover’s library.

Featured Article: The 15 Best Vampire Audiobook Series to Sink Your Teeth Into

You’ve conquered the classics of the vampire fiction genre, such as Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Now you’re looking to grow your library and hit play on some chilling new books brought to life by talented narrators with stellar voices. Whether you’re looking to sink your teeth into a creepy urban fantasy with bloodthirsty beasts or swoon over a steamy paranormal romance, we’ve compiled a list of the best vampire series audiobooks available here on Audible.

What listeners say about A Discovery of Witches

Average Customer Ratings
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Very Meh

I've got about 6 chapters left and still on the fence whether I'll finish it or not. Honestly probably won't. I would say it felt like 60-70% of this book was just Matthew telling Diana she needs rest, or sniffing something. I enjoyed the science element at first, and so far it's the only thing that has stopped me from abandoning it before now. Matthew is basically just a vampire Christian Grey (sans BDSM) and Diana is a witch version of Bella from Twilight with only about an ounce more gumption - neither of which I would say is a compliment. The explanations and the science are interesting enough but the love story gets more and more ridiculous and sappy by the chapter and I think I've pretty much given up on it. And that is saying something given that all the revealed secrets and the action only start in the last 1/4 of the book and it's still not enough to waste another 6 hours on.
Read it if you loved Twilight - maybe. If it was at a cottage and there was nothing else I might read it, but I don't feel it was worth using a credit on.

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12 people found this helpful

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Absolutely Amazing!

This the best book i have listened since i joined Audible. The story is great. The performance is the best i have heard. i would recommend this to anyone! And for a romance the "sex scenes" are brief and very well written.

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12 people found this helpful

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amazing performance, and very interesting story

The narrator was spectacular, and the story way great! I highly recommend to anyone interested in a good novel :)

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9 people found this helpful

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Entertaining

I really enjoyed this book and plan on listening to the rest of the series. The narrator does a great job with the various accents, and I found her easy to listen to.

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Even better a an audible book!

started the paperback, watched the series but this story was somehoe best suited to be an audio book. Kudos as well to the narrator, she was wonderful!

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Absolutely addictive storytelling.

I adored this narrator and the story flowed so well. I can't wait to start the second book.

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Terrible!!

This book is as bad (or worse) than the twilight series. The female protagonist is a smart and powerful witch but yet her vampire love interest bosses her around like a naughty child. The plot is very slow as it spends too long describing every look the couple gives each other. I finished only half the book and had to quit listening because it was so bad.

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This was not for me.

I am not a fan of authors that spend an entire chapter describing a room. I found myself loosing interest in this quite early on.

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Longwinded

I struggled to get through not only the first 2 chapters (repeating them at least 10 times) but the entire book.
It was like I was Charlie Brown trying to listen to the school teacher.
Definitely not a series I wish to carry on with.

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Not into all the romance

The story core is interesting, billed as a grown up Harry Potter I had to try it, but there's long tortured Victorian style romance in the way.
Not much adventure, problematic hetero romance heavily featured. The narrator hits the word VAMPIRE so often it breaks the suspension of disbelief.
I'm listening but not loving it.

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  • Barbara
  • 2011-02-21

A feast for the mind and imagination

I briefly saw the recommendation for "A Discovery of Witches" and decided it was worth the one credit it cost. Little did I imagine what treasure was in store for me. Most books I read or listen to are just a good story, something that briefly occupies your mind and time in a pleasurable way. Rarely are there books that sweep you up in the arc of the story and puts the characters in your heart and mind in such a way that when you can tear yourself away from the story you find yourself thinking about the characters while you cook dinner or go about your daily life. This is that kind of book. I am thankful to Ms. Harkness for imagining such a wonderful richly written story. It's a grown-up book. If you are looking for gratuitous sex it's not there. It reminds of the way they used to make movies where you used your imagination to fill in the blanks instead of having it spelled out in front of you with graphic detail. Most books I read I can compare to junk food, a small bite of pleasure and then gone. This wondrous book is like a 10 course meal spread in front of you. I only wish it had not ended. I hate it that I cannot find any information as to when the next in the planned trilogy will be out. But I will be waiting......it's worth it. Thank you again Ms. Harkness
.

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  • Jillian
  • 2019-08-29

Not for me

Let me preface my review by saying that you should take my review with a grain of salt. This book came highly recommended to me and seems to be pretty well liked overall. Currently, on goodreads, there are over 318,000 ratings and the book has a 4 star average.

A Discovery of Witches is book one of the All Souls Trilogy. This is the first book that I have tried from this author. I'm not sure if I would try another.

I love fantasy, witches, vamps, demons, all that. I thought A Discovery of Witches would be right up my alley and had been really excited to read it for a while. Unfortunately, I found it to be boring and it just droned on. I couldn't connect with the main character at all and had no interest in her or what she was saying because it was just monotonous. As I mentioned a moment ago, there are witches and vampires and demons and up to the point where I stopped reading, there wasn't any air of excitement at all. The main character is a scholar who spends every day, all day, in the Oxford library researching old books and manuscripts and talks about it ad nauseam. She is also a witch but refuses to acknowledge her powers and makes an effort to do everything the long and tedious way to prove that she doesn't need magic to succeed. Except for when she does use magic and rationalizes it away. When she isn't in the library she is running or rowing a boat. Couple all of that with some flowery prose and that was the beginning of the book in a nutshell. The audiobook is 24 hours long. I only made it 2.5 hours so maybe it gets better...I mean it has to, right? I just couldn't take anymore to find out for myself.

The narration was fine. I didn't have any problems with it. It seemed pretty monotone but honestly, I think that was just how the book was, not anything the narrator did.

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  • Elina
  • 2017-11-13

Started out intriguing, devolved into Twilight 2.0

Initially, I was delighted with this book: the studious, ambitious, highly intelligent and independent heroine appealed to me, as did the world of libraries, academia and research. Books, tea, wine and academic pursuits are my jam, and I really enjoyed Diana. Initially, that is.

As the plot progresses and the inevitable romance commences, Diana could increasingly be replaced by a sack of potatoes without the narrative suffering, she becomes that insignificant. Suddenly, she lacks drive, intelligence and initiative, becomes a woman-child that has to be lead everywhere by hand, has to have her own biology, powers and, well, everything explained to her by her romantic interest and everyone else - and just like Bella Swan, she has to be carried everywhere.

And then there's the romance, which kicks up without explanation and much reason. I'm bored and faintly disgusted by the Pater Familiaris hero archetype that Matthew exemplifies: he makes Diana's decisions for her, keeps things from her "for her own good", categorically and repeatedly postpones discussing important things with her, manages her, manhandles her around, growls and snaps and drags and "bundles" her everywhere, acts possessive, territorial and jealous, and he's supposed to be sexy and interesting and manly, instead of a giant bag of NOPE?! No, just no. Matthew outright states he's "been managing [Diana] for weeks", and neither Diana or the author seem to think this is anything but Just Wonderful. (Then again, at this juncture it's debatable Diana, the independent, intelligent academic with a professor's mental capabilities, can think at all without someone else feeding her every thought and idea; see: sack of potatoes.) The Instant Kudzu Romance Plot goes beyond the ridiculous on the WTF-meter when Matthew declares the two of them married because Diana kissed him in the presence of his mother -- and this marriage is apparently instant and binding, with no input from Diana herself. Subsequently Diana declares herself mother to Matthew's children - you know, creatures that are hundreds of years older than her - and proceeds to become instantly caring and adoring towards them. No one raises so much as an eyebrow at this Speedball Stepford manoeuvre: it's all business as usual and completely reasonable by everyone's lights.

There were parts of this novel I genuinely did enjoy: the worldbuilding is interesting, the alchemy and history woven into the plot were fascinating, and the "creatures" and their particulars and dynamics as imagined by Harkness were refreshingly different from the conventions of the genre. I found the scholarly bits and Diana's existence as a serious academic much more interesting and convincing than, well, the rest of the book, and I was disappointed that her intelligence was set firmly in the realm of "tell", not "show".

As for the audiobook, I enjoyed Jennifer Ikeda as the narrator, and found her voice very pleasant to listen to. However, Ikeda's pronunciation of anything but American English was quite lacking, and while I somewhat understand that a small, "exotic" language such as Finnish might be too tall an order, I have trouble believing they couldn't find any source of Scottish English or even a convincing French-accented English for her to listen to as a reference. I cringed every time Ikeda had to deviate from American English, and I wish whoever produced and directed her narration would have given her the tools to help her perform better.

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  • DPM
  • 2011-02-17

I liked it a lot

I was surprised to read the variety of reviews, from praise to condemnation. I recommend this audiobook without hesitation, both the book and the narration. I believe you have to start from the perspective of the genre you are reading - it is, after all, make believe. There are no such thing as vampires and witches ( well, not real witches). So..the author has the task of making you willingly suspend belief, and at the same time care about the characters. Harkness accomplishes both, and more. The book is best described as " Twilight for Adults", and thinking adults at that.

I look forward to Book # 2

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  • S
  • 2012-08-09

I really wanted to like it...

But I just couldn't. The writer is technically very good, she can definitely put a sentence together properly. Unfortunately, her attention to detail, something that delighted me at first, quickly became wearying. If a character looks at a book, you'll know what kind of binding it has and the color of the cover. If someone looks at their watch, you'll get a sentence or two describing what kind it is. I like details here and there; they can make a setting and characters more real, more solid, but this book is drowning in details. Any action scenes are slowed by tangential descriptions, and everything is over-analyzed and explained to death.

The dialogue is also stilted, which works for the uptight main character, but not for all of them. It's a very dry read, and there's no humor to be found anywhere. It's just not for me.

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143 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • troconn
  • 2011-02-16

Can't Please Everyone...

If you decide what you read and/or listen to according to the reviews found on this web site then you will be cheating yourself. As you can tell from the reviews of this novel they run the gamut. I've never read a book that was "perfect"... even the ones that get across the board 5-star reviews aren't perfect. This is my advise... those of you who are hyper critical about narrators take the time to listen to the audio sample of the story offered for every selection on the site, the selection is usually fairly long and should give you amble time to judge the quality of the narration. It should also give you taste of the story. I liked this book and I thought it was a new twist on the vampire story... lots of new material... lots of interesting visualization and I thought the narrator was very good. I know these things are expensive and if you get one that disappoints you then that's wasted money in your mind, but consider that the taste for a story is as varied as our opinions of everything else in life... my father said, "opinions are like .... everyone has one and no one is interested in yours except you!"

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  • Catherine
  • 2011-03-31

A Wasted Day

I agree with some of the earlier reviews:
Twilight for adults. Sappy. Romantic fiction.
But what teed me off is that this is 24 hours of set up for a series.
Asa King and Rice fan I was disappointed. As a Christie fan I was livid.
In all that time the mystery doesn't get solved. Poirot we need you.
I resented being sucked into a series without warning.
Series are great as long as each book will stand on its own. This one does not.

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  • Neal
  • 2014-04-17

A most terrific & non-typical treatment of Witches

What did you love best about A Discovery of Witches?

I thought the cautiously developed relationship and then to true love was handled extremely well and very realistic for a fantasy novel. Very tough to deal with archetypes that have been done to death and done to silliness like the Twilight series exemplifies. THIS work is just the first chapter in a Triology. Leaves anyone wanting more and explains why it's been doing so well on the top selling books lists in over two dozen languages,

Who was your favorite character and why?

Actually I like our heroines dead mother and father best because it is they that are truly at the heart of what we have only begun to glimpse.

What does Jennifer Ikeda bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

She does a very excellent job of reading, but also bringing life and characters to all the characters she has to read for. It's never confusing which character is talking even when many are in the same scene.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It's far too long for such a thing, but I have gotten through this book and the second in a few long road trips and enjoyed the company. Can't wait for the release of the final chapter to this trilogy and hope Hollywood takes notice and chooses to make this with the same quality they are handling Game of Thrones with. Anything less, would be a waste of such excellent writing.

Any additional comments?

I think the books do speak for themselves whether in audio form as I have them, or in the written form.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Vickie Sigmon
  • 2018-05-13

Should Have Trusted My Own Judgment

This book is a Romance.
Do you hear me saying this book is a Romance?
Don't buy if you are not looking for a book that is all Romance.

I would have preferred a narrator who had a more mature voice. If the majority of the characters had been 20-somethings or younger, than this narrator would have been fine. Her voice and intonations are too juvenile for the majority of characters who are late 30s or older.

Despite comparisons in reviews, this story line doesn't rival the Outlander series.

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Megan
  • 2011-05-11

This is a romance!

This book felt like a failed attempt at creating a grown-up Twilight. Whether you like them or not, the similarities between S.M.'s books and this one are obvious. In addition, I didn't realize this was a romance when I bought the book- IT IS! The romance takes up at least 3/4 of the book and moves at a confusing, awkward pace. I only kept listening to it so that I could write a review based on the entire book- otherwise I would have stopped listening around 2/3 of the way through.

On the bright side- the narrator does a fantastic job. The stars are for her.

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  • S.
  • 2018-07-09

Laissez-vous emporter

J'ai toujours eu du mal avec les livres audios, ne m'habituant pas aux voix des narrateurs, surtout pour les dialogues mais j'ai trouvé ici le livre parfait. La voix de la narratrice se fait presquz oublier alors qu'elle nous emmène dans l'histoire, merveilleusement écrite par Deborah Harkness. Un livre qui va bien au delà de l'amour entre une sorcière et un vampire et qui mérite vraiment le détour.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2023-02-21

Intrigue sans intérêt, narration agaçante

Je recherchais une histoire palpitante sur les sorcières, teintée de mystère et d’ésotérisme. Après avoir lu le résumé, je me suis dit que c’était exactement ce que je recherchais, avec une romance en plus. Qu’elle ne fut pas ma déception de constater que c’est l’inverse ! Une romance dégoulinante et souvent assez ridicule, décorée d’une intrigue ésotérique qui aurait pu être bonne. Diana est agaçante, Matthew encore plus, et les autres personnages sont mal déroulés. Pendant plus de vingt heures d’écoute, la narratrice m’a irritée au plus haut point. Je me suis fait violence pour terminer ce livre dans la douleur. Un autre tome est clairement annoncé par la fin du livre, suite que je m’épargnerai bien volontiers.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • BB
  • 2023-01-19

It's a pass

I like to see things to the end. Which is the only reason I didn't return the book after a couple chapters. But it was torture listening to it. At one point I found myself muttering "if I hear 'Matthew' one more time, i'll kill someone". Thank God, I live alone. The pace is sooo slow, Diana is soo annoying. If I'm from a supportive witch family, why go whine and ask vampires when I have witchy problems and questions? There was no well written reason to explain this.
The final chapter sees something finally happening but it's wrapped in silly details and drawn out. And the ending is so ridiculous that it killed any burgeoning curiosity I had about about the next book.
The writer is not that bad, you can see there's vocabulary and some technique, but that story? No.

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  • Mae Ferron
  • 2022-01-02

Really good!

I love the book! I was a bit worried with the narrator’s voice recording at the start, strangely I’ve found that higher pitched voices sound a bit more robotic than the lower types on recordings. But I got super into it quick and Jennifer does all the accents which is cool, although their French is not the best (I’m French and didn’t understand what they were saying). But that would be a lot to ask from someone especially that there isn’t that much French in the book.
Overall seriously amazing work! Thank you so much, I’m hooked!

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  • B
  • 2019-04-06

Waste of good research

I purchased this audiobook after seeing the overwhelmingly good critiques and reviews, but was disappointed when the storyline started becoming more and more like a long-winded Twilight fanfiction.
Jennifer Ikeda is a wonerful reader though so I give her top score

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