A Discovery of Witches: A rich, spellbinding show to sink your teeth into

A Discovery of Witches, starring Teresa Palmer and Matthew Goode, is based on the first book in the bestselling All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. Upon seeing the initial trailer, I scoffed at it and looked upon it with scorn. Another vampire/supernatural romance? As if we need another one of them. Not only have we had them aplenty, but it seems so out of touch with the times… or at least so I thought.

Halloween rolls around and suddenly there is a profusion of interest in all things supernatural. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is suddenly at the top of my Netflix list, the BBC’s Inside No.9 puts on a live Halloween special, and before you know it, I’m eager to binge-watch Sky’s latest offering.

Initially I feared that the show would be cringeworthy with clichés. Sure, there are some of the typical tropes; the dark and dangerous vampire, the witch just learning the extent of her powers, a forbidden Romeo and Juliet-esque romance, and a magical object (the Ashmole 782 manuscript) that has unknown powers. Yet the world that Harkness and the shows’ creators have conjured is rich in lore and embedded in our own. Witches, vampires, and daemons teeter on the brink of war and must live in secret amongst humans.

Admittedly, I was sceptical about this series, and yet A Discovery of Witches seems to have captured the imagination of its audience, myself included. Seasons two and three have already been commissioned by Sky; not a surprise considering the book series’ massive fan base. Already I have begun to read the first novel, alongside watching the series, and it’s clear to me why this show and the books have been such a hit. A Discovery of Witches, with its beautiful autumnal timing, its complex species system, and its varied and picturesque settings, is the perfect escape for us and yet also an apt reflection of our times. The creatures in the story are divided by their needs and desire for power and control, and yet they can also come together when working towards a common goal. Whilst eerily reminiscent of the divided world we live in today, there’s also escapism. Dare I say it, but with the two combined, the show may well prove to be the empowering series that we need today.

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September 2021
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