A Discovery of Witches

Teresa Palmer in A Discovery of Witches. (Screengrab: YouTube)
Teresa Palmer in A Discovery of Witches. (Screengrab: YouTube)


3/5 Stars


Historian Diana discovers an ancient manuscript that threatens the fragile peace between witches, vampires, demons and humans. She has no choice but to embrace her own status as a witch, and investigate the riddles in the text.


When I started watching A Discovery of Witches I had no idea what to expect except that Matthew Goode was one of the main characters so I'd give it a go. I'm glad I did because this was one of those shows that I just devoured! To say that I was obsessed would be a little bit of an understatement.

The series is filled with magic, vampires, witches, forbidden romance, political intrigue and a whole lot of mystery. TV Guide said it best when they tweeted that "A Discovery of Witches is for hopeless romantics, but sappy people need shows too!" They were correct.

A Discovery of Witches is based on the book of the same name by Deborah Harkness and tells the story of Diana Bishop, a witch with iffy powers that she doesn't quite have control over. She's at Oxford University doing a fellowship, and while researching in the Bodleian Library, she manages to access a previously lost manuscript called Ashmole 782.

This is a crucial MacGuffin mostly because it sets in motion many things like Matthew Clairmont (Matthew Goode) taking an interest in her as well as Peter Knox, a member of the supernatural Congregation. Ashmole 782 contains information that could mean the end of vampires, and naturally, he believes it should stay in the hands of witches. The vampires don't want to be wiped out and the daemons, the lowest creatures on the totem pole, are trying to mind their own business.

Matthew Goode is positively swoon-worthy as the vampire Matthew Clairemont and plays the role with such intensity and romanticism that it's easy to see why Diana would fall head over heels for him, completely forgetting about her fellowship at a prestigious university. There are also people trying to capture her so I too would forget that I am there to get an education and not flit off to France with dreamy vampires. Despite Diana falling ridiculously in love and could quickly become the very dull damsel in distress (which she is for a hot minute), she is a complete badass once she finds out why her powers have been dampened. She's not someone that needs protection, and even though Matthew tries to do this, she ends up the one protecting and saving him.

Harkness has managed to build an exciting world with her own set of rules for magic, vampires and demons, and it's been translated to screen wonderfully.

While there is a lot of good to be said for this series, the dialogue can be a bit cringe-worthy, and I found myself rolling my eyes at a few of the more cheesy romance lines. You can tell this has been adapted from a book and I feel like if you've read it, you'd be filling in a lot of the smaller details that the show assumes you know. For instance, we don't ever learn what powers daemons actually have and what are their purpose aside from, actually I don't even know. Hopefully, the second season will expand on things, and we'll find out if Diana and Matthew made that time jump in the nick of time.



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