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lunababymoonchild

A Discovery of Witches

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I bought this book because it was cheaper than anywhere else and because it tied in with a TV series I'd enjoyed.  I'm glad I did because it's brilliant.

 

Description from Amazon:

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...

 

This is the first book in a very long time that I just could not put down.  I was desperate to know what happened next.  The characters are well drawn and believable and the plot is well crafted and while easy to follow difficult to predict.  The prose is outstanding. It's absolutely fascinating!

 

This is the first part of a trilogy known as All Souls.

 

Highly recommended

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I have just completed reading this trilogy of books and I have been talking to Luna privately about them but now I have completed them I thought I'd leave my thoughts on them here. I first became aware of this series of books through the Sky TV series A Discovery of Witches and when it appeared and immediately attracted my attention I realised that it was an adaptation of a trilogy of books, first of all I was shocked that a paranormal supernatural series of books had got past me, as that generally doesn’t happen very often and then after I had got over that clear oversight on my part, I made it my mission rectify it and to buy the books, which thanks to the TV series the books were now everywhere and I picked up the entire trilogy quite reasonably.  Now these are long books, each one is over 600 pages and the print is quite small but I devoured them.  

 

The three books are called:

 

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

First of all I want to say the first series (and this is nothing against Sky as I loved the series) did not do the first book justice in any way shape or form, yes parts were altered and bits left out that always happens but the book goes into so much more detail that although the series was reasonably faithful to it, it was far inferior to the book. But the books are nothing like anything I have ever read before, and I became pretty obsessed with them I wasn’t reading them I was devouring them and lets just say I haven't had a lot of sleep since I started reading them!  I had a mini crisis after I had finished the second book as I really wanted, no I think the word is needed to read the third to conclude the series but a part of me didn’t want to read it as I knew if I did I would be bringing it to a conclusion and I didn’t want that to happen, I just didn’t want it to end.  That has never happened to me before, the closest thing I can compare it to was a brief sense of sadness I had when I got the final Harry Potter book and a feeling akin to grief when I had finished it and realised that was it, which was weird and I had a similar feeling of grief after I had read Wuthering Heights because the characters of that story had captivated me so much, but what I felt on those two occasions was nothing to the emotions I felt before I had even started the final book of the All Souls Trilogy and now I finished I am feeling that sense of grief very keenly. 
 
So, what I can I say without sounding like a raving lunatic or giving the story away, because I can’t stress strongly enough just how good these books were. The story revolves around Matthew – a Vampire and Diana – a Witch, who meet at Oxford University where they are both professors, Diana is an American and studied History at Yale before getting a position at Oxford, and Matthew, well, he has been there many, many times in the centuries he has lived.  This time he is a professor of Science and he is studying DNA, which is a convenient cover for his studies on the blood of ‘creatures’ the term used for Witches, Vampires and Demons who live in secret among Humans. He is doing this because all is not well with the ‘creatures’ of the world, Demons, who have always been deemed dangerously close to the edge and are dismissed by the other creatures as somewhat of an underclass are becoming more and more mentally unstable, the siring of vampires is failing at an alarming rate and witches are no longer the powerful beings they once were, in short creatures are dying out and Matthew wants to know why. The two come together over circumstances surrounding a mysterious ancient manuscript and they fall in love, which is a problem as different species of creatures are not allowed to fraternise – by law, the law set down by the mysterious ‘congregation’ who rule over the creatures to keep them from coming to the attention of humans.
 
This is an incredibly complex story, with so many layers to it, you can tell immediately that it was written by a bonafide historian as the attention to detail is superb and the historical elements are spot on, in some parts – especially in the second book you can actually visualise those moments of history and as you read it you see it in your minds eye, the fact in some instances she has used ancient legends surrounding certain characters who actually lived in reality as part of the plot is just beautiful. This is not just a love story and it is crass to assume it is, there is literally everything in this story, aside from the obvious forbidden love story, and the fact it is also a supernatural fantasy story, which should also not put anyone off as it is not one of those regurgitated insipid stories which quite frankly are only useful if you have run out of toilet paper, trust me on this – Twilight it aint and to even make the comparison as one of the reviews printed on the back of the books did is beyond insulting!! It has a level of intelligence to it which is breathtaking and places it head and shoulders above anything else in that overcrowded genre. 
 
After I read this trilogy everything  else I have read in that genre is inferior, books which I have previously read and raved about pale into insignificance after reading this series. In fact and this is a huge thing for me to say, this series of books has been the story to knock Wuthering Heights from its long held place of my favourite story ever, and only Luna will understand the significance of that statement. 
 
The way it is written flows with a grace I have only experienced a few times, and that has been with some of the classics I have read, Wuthering Heights is obviously one, and Charles Dickens was an author I have had that feeling with a lot, the feeling where the words wash over you, draw you in and consume you, yes I know that sounds overly dramatic but it is the only way I can describe it. Some books when you read them feel almost spiky, halting and uncomfortable to read, some just feel shallow and insipid, some leave you feeling cold and awkward and some feel as though you are wading through treacle and fighting with the story, this one grabs you by the hand and takes you on the ride of your life, and that is just the way it is written, before you even get to the plot. Does anyone get what I am trying to say here? I hope so because after reading that back I fear I have now moved into the realms of raving lunatic! 
 
So moving on to the plot itself, this is very complex and deep and I don’t want to say too much as I am certain I will give something away. Over the three books, there is action, a lot of action and sometimes quite gruesome action, suspense, mystery, problem solving, science and technology, history, family values, self discovery, grief and loss, mental health issues, trust and betrayal.  There are elements of warning of the dangers of prejudice and the consequences of the fear that arises when people are judged for being different. It has so many different threads which all come together seamlessly to provide the reader with a story which is complex but beyond sublime and in my case was impossible to put down once started. I cannot recommend it highly enough, brilliant and captivating are just not strong enough to describe it and to anyone thinking of reading this series I say only one thing, and that is ‘do it, do it now!’

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49 minutes ago, lunababymoonchild said:

I agree with everything that Apple has so eloquently put.  

Well, thank you for saying that I wouldn't have used the word eloquently, after reading it back I was thinking more along the lines of deranged! 

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HI Apple and Luna, I did enjoy the first book in this trilogy but unfortunately found the second one a bit of a slog and didn't bother with the third, I did enjoy the TV series although I found Diana a bit "wet"!

 

Anyway you might be pleased to hear that there's a sort of prequel coming out, "Time's Convert" which tells Marcus's story. 

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3 hours ago, Madeleine said:

HI Apple and Luna, I did enjoy the first book in this trilogy but unfortunately found the second one a bit of a slog and didn't bother with the third, I did enjoy the TV series although I found Diana a bit "wet"!

 

Anyway you might be pleased to hear that there's a sort of prequel coming out, "Time's Convert" which tells Marcus's story. 

Hi Madeleine,  I get totally what you are saying about the second book, the pace of it slows right down, and it becomes meandering but I think that is deliberate to show the confusion and hesitation that Diana is facing being an independent 21st century American woman in Elizabethan England, which despite all her learning as a historian doesn't prepare her for,  so she is a little lost and out of her depth plus she has the added issue of she has no idea who she can trust and she is reliant solely on Matthew, which doesn't sit well with her being so independent under normal circumstances.  I say that because (Possible slight spoiler alert coming up!) after the point in the second book when she finally discovered who she was, I found the pace picks up again.  I have to say you really missed out not reading the third book, as that one... well, I urge you to reconsider and read it as the shocks begin from the very first page.

 

You say you found Diana a bit wet, did you mean - in the TV series or the book? I thought she was portrayed a bit pathetic and weak at times in the TV series, and the fact a lot of the detail was left out compounded that fact, but in the books she is far from wet, she is intelligent, stubborn and very, very strong and at times Matthew comes across as the weaker character, but as the story continues the way he sometimes behaves is fully explained and you realise why he is that way.

 

PS.  I have taken a look at the book you mentioned - Luna kindly sent me a link, and I had a quick read, and I will probably end up buying it as I enjoyed this series so much, however, from what I have read it appears to be Marcus's backstory and while that seems interesting from the historical aspect I think I would sooner read a story based on Ysabeau, (Information which comes out about her in book three makes me say that, but I'll say no more!)

Edited by Apple
added a PS

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Oh yes I thought Diana in the TV show was quite drippy, but I don't remember her being that way in the book (long time since I read it).

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I have just finished the third book in the trilogy -  The Book of Life - and wow what an ending!  The three books are just incredible and I loved them all.

 

very highly and thoroughly recommended.

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On 12/19/2018 at 13:31, lunababymoonchild said:

I have just finished the third book in the trilogy -  The Book of Life - and wow what an ending!  The three books are just incredible and I loved them all.

 

very highly and thoroughly recommended.

Short and to the point! Unlike my long winded assessment of them, I'm glad you enjoyed them and I look forward to hearing what you think of Time Convert 

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