"It begins with absence and desire.
It begins with blood and fear.
It begins with a discovery of witches."
A Discovery of Witches has all the ingredients for a bookworm's perfect love story: star-crossed lovers that the world is determined to keep apart, high stakes action and suspense, and copius amounts of old books pored over with steaming mugs of hot tea.
The three books that comprise the All Souls Trilogy follow brilliant witch and scholar Diana Bishop as she unintentionally discovers her fate as the key to uncovering Ashmole 782 during a routine visit to the Bodleian library to research aging manuscripts. Soon after her first encounter with the coveted magical text, Diana finds that the book is sought after by witches, daemons, and vampires alike for its answers to the origin and preservation of magical species. Among the small hoard of creatures out to get the book by any means necessary is Matthew Clairmont, vampire and renowned scholar of DNA and genetics. It is under these conditions that Diana and Matthew meet, fall in love, and defy all the rules their world of magical creatures try to maintain through the powerful governing force: the Council.
Hunting Diana and Matthew down through Oxford, Matthew's home in the French mountains, Sept-Tours, and Diana's childhood home in Madison, New York, the second book in the series, Shadow of Night, sends our couple hurtling back in time to Elizabethain England. Here Diana and Matthew must try and learn more about the illusive Ashmole 782, all whilst maintaining Matthew's past life as a vampire and spy to Queen Elizabeth, and bending the will of time and space by allowing Diana to learn and practice her magic as a weaver with some of the most powerful witches of the time, under as much cover and secrecy as Matthew's old identity as Matthew Roydon can afford.
Brought back into the present day in the third and last book of the series, The Book of Life concludes Diana and Matthew's story with several ground-breaking discoveries: a disavowed son, the birth of half witch-half vampire twins, and the secrets to Ashmole 782. I can't say anymore - you simply have to read the series to get all the juicy details.
Deborah Harkness's trilogy manages to encompass everything I love most: magic, supernatural creatures, history, libraries, and a compelling love story. Easily one of my all-time favorites, I'll recommend A Discovery of Witches to anyone who will listen, and I'm recommending it to you now during this Valentine's holiday. Grab a bottle of Vampire's Pinot Noir and snuggle in for a trilogy you'll never want to end.