If you aren't completely anti-vampire, A discovery of witches might be one to take to the lake. Written by a history professor, it is rich in European history and settings. Harkness chooses to begin this book, the first in a trilogy, in Oxford at the Bodleian Library--pure joy for Tolkien or C.S. Lewis fans! Then she dives right into the current stream of paranormal fiction by saturating her world with humans and "creatures," otherwise known as vampires, daemons, and witches. Add a splash of genetic and medical research and a dram of possible species extinction, and you have an intellectual's cocktail. Parallels to Twilight with some comparisons to Kostova's The historian are easily made.
The main character is Diana, a young Yale professor who has suppressed the family's witchcraft all her life out of fear. Her parents were murdered when she was seven years old, and Diana has fought panic attacks ever since. While researching ancient Oxford texts for a conference keynote address, she realizes one particular text has magical qualities. Trying to ignore them, she returns the folio, only to be stalked and threatened by witches and daemons and vampires for the secrets she didn't even notice in the document.
One particular vampire stands out from the crowd--from any crowd. Unbelievably good-looking, rich, intelligent, and influential, not to mention old, Matthew Clairmont sweeps Diana off her feet, despite the ingrained prejudice and hostility between their species. As their love grows, so does the danger. Why are all three species after this book? What is the tie to Diana? Along with the intrigue and romance, there are humorous elements--my personal favorite is the Massachusetts' haunted house. This residence has more ghostly residents than living, and announces upcoming visits by adding new rooms. I could stand to read more of this--looking forward to book two in the All Souls' Trilogy! ~Tessa