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Publisher's Summary

Book one of the New York Times best-selling All Souls Serie - "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

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.

What listeners say about A Discovery of Witches

Average Customer Ratings
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Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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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.

12 people found this helpful

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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.

10 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 :)

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.

4 people found this helpful

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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!

4 people found this helpful

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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.

3 people found this helpful

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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.

2 people found this helpful

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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.

2 people found this helpful

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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.

1 person found this helpful

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Having a hard time listening to this .

This is a situation where show beats book . I’m finding this incredibly boring and drawn out .
I’m a sucker for a little bit of action and found there was little in this . The first 30 chapters were almost useless to the story/plot.
I actually skipped 10 chapters and was still caught up .
I did not finish and am having a hard time justifying the next book .

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jill
  • 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.

209 people found this helpful

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  • Nicole Nevarez
  • 2019-07-16

abusive romance. no plot whatsoever.

was the NY times high when they reviewed this piece of trash? no plot. she falls in love instantly for no reason and theres nothing that makes you even like any of the characters. no personality to speak of

93 people found this helpful

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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.

88 people found this helpful

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  • Ciara
  • 2019-04-24

Twilight Reject!!!!

This book is called Discovery of witches yet it focuses on a witches love and relationship with a vampire & how they might be able to have children. Where’s the spell casting where’s the action. The best part was when Diana got kidnapped by the other witch other than that boring

67 people found this helpful

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  • Christy
  • 2019-04-22

Not impressed

This is just a romance novel wrapped in supernatural mumbo jumbo...meh. The characters are pretty typical for any adventure/romance. I was unimpressed.

51 people found this helpful

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  • Megan
  • 2019-02-11

I can’t finish the book.

I am about half way through and feel like nothing has happened. Their romance hasn’t taken off the people who are after her haven’t done anything yet. If I hear one more word about wine my head is going to explode. I feel like this is a college book I am reader dry and never ending. I keep waiting for it to get exciting but good lord the audible book has been going for 8 hours and nothing has happened. Honestly get better editing and edit out all the filler and get to the main story. I don’t even know how people liked this book.

60 people found this helpful

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  • Gwynnie
  • 2019-03-15

I give up

I am ~16 hours in and I just can’t anymore. I am torn between wanting to know what happens and dreading listening to the thing, which I feel like is a bad sign. I find the main character obnoxious and unlikely, the love interest unappealing, and the chemistry between them... well, I couldn’t find that.
I was seriously confused at hour 9 as to whether the plan was for these two characters to get together. Again, not a great sign. It just drags on with no apparent point, while at the same time is painfully obvious writing with not a hint of subtlety. I’m not even mad, I didn’t know you could get both of those things in one book, simultaneously. Impressive.

19 people found this helpful

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  • T. Nardmann
  • 2018-01-26

Bo. Ring.

Twilight for grown-ups with no less wish-fulfillment and a plot that moves at a snail's pace. Flowery language, in places too much so.

26 people found this helpful

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  • P. Stover
  • 2016-07-05

With a brush of her finger against the smooth glas

of her smartphone she paused the breathless narration. She stared at her phone in irritation, as it sat, on her plain particleboard desk, headphones dangling from the input. The electric glare from her computer monitor reflected against the phone.

TL,DR: I stopped listening because this entire book is breathless descriptions of mundane actions. It could be about half ato a third as long as it is. I don't mind detail but when you're breathlessly describing the act of GETTING DRESSED TO GO HORSEBACK RIDING?

Seriously, they just described the feel of putting boots on. At a certain point, the things I am reading need to advance the plot not just make me feel ambiance.

Some people are complaining that this is a romance, but here's the thing, I LOVE ROMANCE NOVELS. This is just... breathless descriptions of life with occasional plot points. I tried, I really did. But Nope.

388 people found this helpful

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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.

165 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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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  • 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.

1 person found this helpful