By Jen P
As some of you may recall, T. Mack and I delved into The All Souls Trilogy back in 2015. We read the goliath of a novel that is A Discovery of Witches, drank some moscato, and dropped our wine-honest thoughts on camera so you could decide for yourself whether it’s worth the read (You can check that out here). But even though the series was a hefty endeavor, I still found some magic in it, and when I heard it was being made into a TV show, and that many of my favorite actors would be cast in leading roles, I couldn’t wait to check it out. That was four years ago! But finally, it’s here! I binge-watched it like a lunatic, and here’s what I have to say about this slightly pretentious, vampire/witch romantic drama:
First, for those of you who know nothing of the series, let me tell you a little bit about the thing.
Diana Bishop is a modern day witch who doesn’t use her powers. She wants a normal human life, which is considered unnatural, but she seeks it out anyway. That doesn’t stop other witches for claiming she uses her powers to get ahead in life, but haters gonna hate. Anyway, one day she’s researching some historical blah blah blah in the Bodleian Library, when she accidentally calls forth a magical book that’s been missing for centuries. Upon touching the book, a magical surge goes through her and the surrounding area, attracting all sorts of creatures to her, including the mysterious vampire biochemist, Matthew Clairmont. At first terrified of him, she slowly accepts him as her protector and guide through a world she hardly understands—the world of deadly witches, vampires, and daemons. Together, they embark on a journey towards the truth of the creation of creatures, and a forbidden romance that threatens to shatter the tenuous peace between their species.
I love the high quality cast of this series. Diana is played by Theresa Palmer, who I loved in Warm Bodies. Matthew is played by Matthew Goode (Chasing Liberty, Watchmen, Leap Year). And Alex Kingston (River Song on Doctor Who, y’all!!!) as the lovable lesbian witch, Aunt Sarah. And those are just my favorites. You’ll recognize most of the faces on this series from various British films and tv series. Also, the cast of characters is quite inclusive, with many non-white characters on both sides of the slow-brewing creature war. And as I mentioned above, a lesbian couple plays a key role in the series, as well as a gay daemon.
But what I love most about the series, is that it sticks to the book well, but cuts most of the scenes that bored me on paper. There are no long sciency talks over tea, no boring history recaps over wine, and there is absolutely not one single yoga mat in sight. *long sigh of relief* It’s still bougie AF with the castles and the traditions, etc etc, but it’s a hell of a lot less pretentious than the novel was.
That being said, skipping so much of the superfluous crap cut out most of what the lovers’ relationship was built on, so their love feels forced. For a vampire biochemist, Matthew has no chemistry (sorry, couldn’t help myself) with the doe-eyed Diana. I honestly could not tell when they went from tolerating each other to falling for each other. She just suddenly started crying that he was leaving and rain started falling in reverse. It was a whole thing. But I digress.
Another issue I had with the show was the flying. Yes, I said flying. Some witches can do that. The special effects were so atrocious, they were laughable at best, and cringey at worst.
And another minor thing that annoyed me was Matthew’s voiceover intro of every episode: “Once the world was full of wonders, but it belongs to humans now. We creatures have all but disappeared. Daemons, vampires, and witches hiding in plain sight, ill at ease, even with each other. But, as my father used to say, in every ending… there is a new beginning.” The same words, in the same voice, and the same tone became annoying after only the second time I heard them; but, I suppose this show wasn’t meant to be binge-watched in two days, so that one’s on me.
For those of us non-biochemistry/ history buffs, the show was easier to digest than the book and an entertaining watch; but it remains intelligent enough for more highbrow tastes. I give it 3.5 shields:
A Discovery of Witches airs Sundays at 8PM on AMC and BBC America. Check it out and let me know what you think.