A Discovery of Witches : All Souls

  • by Deborah Harkness
  • Narrated by Jennifer Ikeda
  • Series: All Souls
  • 23 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

An epic, richly inventive, historically sweeping, magical romance.
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 genticist. 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....

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What the Critics Say

"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)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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

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- kerry jacobs

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.
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- Caroline Marks

Book Details

  • Release Date: 14-02-2011
  • Publisher: Headline Audiobooks