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A Discovery of Witches by Deborah E. Harkness

A Discovery of Witches

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Sarah Broadhurst's view...

The first in the All Souls trilogy, it’s 640 pages of pure pleasure. Involving, intriguing and compelling, this book may look long but, trust me, it’s well worth it. The premise is that our world contains three types of supernatural being: vampires, witches and demons. They interact with humanity, often as our greatest creative artists and benefactors, but basically they live hidden lives. And what happens when a vampire falls in love with a witch …? Of course, there is so much more here; conspiracy, history, mythology, mystery, ghosts, even the promise of time travel. It’s big in all senses, an epic work, and it’s not over. Start here and then move on to the following two books in this wonderful series.

All Souls Trilogy:
1. A Discovery of Witches
2. Shadow of Night
3. The Book of Life

In February 2011 Book One in The All Souls Trilogy, A Discovery of Witches was unleashed on the world and became a global smash hit. A Sunday Times and New York Times top ten bestseller it has gone on to sell over 1.5 million copies as well as being sold into 38 foreign territories and a Warner Bros film adaptation is underway. The sequel Shadow of Night, published in July 2012, was a No.1 New York Times and No.2 Sunday Times bestseller, surpassing the success of the first book. The final novel in the series, The Book of Life was published in July 2014.

October 2011 eBook of the Month.

One of our Great Reads you may have missed in 2011.

If you like Deborah E. Harkness you might also like to read books by Francesca Haig.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

  • Clair Chaytors - 'Simply spell binding...I cannot recommended this book enough. The story is compelling and the setting in Oxford is simply captivating. I have even got my husband hooked on the series now!'
  • Sharon Matthews - 'An excellent discovery. For me, this book had it all... witches, vampires, a mystery, brooding characters ... what an excellent start to a trilogy.'
  • Megan Abbott - 'Captivating and irresistible to vampire lovers...I absolutely love this book and could not put it down. I loved the romance as it didn't overpower the main plot of the story.'
  • Siobhan McDowell - 'I would like to tell you how pleasantly surprised I was by this novel...Tremendous research had obviously been done by the author and this was evident in the historical references.'
  • Helen Sidebottom - 'I am so glad you have introduced me to this trilogy. It is by far the best book of this genre I have ever read. I was captivated from the first line...'
  • Dana Captainino - 'It has all the ingredients of a great fantasy read.  But, there is something really weird about it - and I am not been ironic.'
  • Sarah Jones - 'Not your usual vampire novel. Interesting and intelligent with a compelling love story.'
  • Manisha - 'Overall it was a good read, but could have been better and a bit shorter. However, I have recommended it to several of my friends as I know they will enjoy it.'
  • Judith Cooper - 'Sadly for me it didn't live up to my expectations.'
  • Barbara Gaskell - 'As a lover of all things mystical I really wanted to like this book but was left disappointed.'


A Discovery of Witches by Deborah E. Harkness

It begins with absence and desire. It begins with blood and fear. It begins with a discovery of witches. When historian Diana Bishop opens an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it's an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life. Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent death of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft. Now Diana has unwittingly exposed herself to a world she's kept at bay for years; one of powerful witches, creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires. Sensing the significance of Diana's discovery, the creatures gather in Oxford, among them the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire geneticist. Diana is inexplicably drawn to Matthew and, in a shadowy world of half-truths and old enmities, ties herself to him without fully understanding the ancient line they are crossing. As they begin to unlock the secrets of the manuscript and their feelings for each other deepen, so the fragile balance of peace unravels...

The All Souls Trilogy
1. A Discovery of Witches
2. Shadow of Night
3. The Book of Life


Praise for the All Souls trilogy:

‘Rich, thrilling… A captivating and romantic ripping yarn’ E L James

‘Gripping and impossible to put down…a wonderful read!’ Katie Fforde

‘This is a glorious, finely-wrought gem of a book: intelligent, thoughtful, intricate …Utterly enchanting on every level’ Manda Scott

‘I am totally in love with A Discovery of Witches and its gloriously quirky cast of characters.
It is great fun and very clever all at the same time.’ Cathy Rentzenbrink, The Bookseller

‘Intelligent and off-the-wall…irresistible’ The Sunday Times

About the Author

Deborah E. Harkness

Deborah Harkness is a historian of science and a professor of history at the University of Southern California. She spent several years in Oxford doing research (and really did once find a missing manuscript in the Bodleian Library!). She has written THE JEWEL HOUSE: ELIZABETHAN LONDON AND THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION as well as the three novels in the internationally bestselling ALL SOULS trilogy, A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES, SHADOW OF NIGHT and THE BOOK OF LIFE.

Author Photo © Vania Stoyanova

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Book Info

Publication date

29th September 2011


Deborah E. Harkness

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Headline Book Publishing an imprint of Headline Publishing Group


704 pages



Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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