A Discovery Of Witches is basically a more fleshed out and serialized version of Twilight. Instead of sparkly, high-school mouth breathers and a contrived love triangle, A Discovery of Witches combines its fantastical ideas and ancient feud between vampires and witches into a more Romeo & Juliet-esque romance. It’s ultimately this romance that will make or break your experience with Witches, as the first season sets the scene nicely for the long-awaited follow-up.
The story is admittedly quite tropey and hits all the usual beats you’d expect from a fantasy drama but the world is compelling enough to stick with for the long-haul. Behind the thin veil of everyday mundane life is a secret fantasy world playing host to witches, demons and vampires. Witches and vampires have a pretty long-standing history, as we soon find out, dating way back to ancient times. There’s certainly no love lost between the two sides.
Caught in the middle of all this hot blooded anger is our young witch Diana Bishop who happens to hold the key to possessing powerful magic. Her “call to action” comes when she accidentally conjures forth a powerful text in the library known as the Ashmole 782 or, as it’s more commonly referred to, the Book Of Life.
As we soon find out, this book is an incredibly rare and sought-after artefact and it inevitably attracts the attention of some pretty nasty characters.
Diana finds herself thrust in the midst of this conflict between witches and vampires, as a moody, handsome vampire named Matthew shows up and immediately takes an interest in her studies. After gaining her scent early on, he quickly isolates himself from the girl. Only, not for long given the two start to bond and grow closer together.
As their romance works its magic (no pun intended), vampiric forces work to try and put an end to this war. On the side of the witches lies Peter Knox, a slimy businessman who begins his own crusade to get his hands on Ashmole 782.
What ensues from here is one part cat and mouse chase, one part mystery box thriller and one part romance. While the latter does dominate large swathes of the show, there’s just enough supporting characters, episodic sub-plot shenanigans and magical drama to flesh out the 8 episodes on offer.
During the middle portion of episodes the show does simmer out a little but it does eventually pull everything back for a dramatic cliffhanger to end things on. And what a cliffhanger it is!
There’s a fair few montage segments dotted throughout too, predictably wrapped up with love making or dramatic kisses out in public between different characters. These accentuate the budding romance between Matthew and Diana but also help to add more history to our different characters too.
Diana and Matthew’s forbidden romance angle gives off a constant feeling of Deja vu while watching this though, especially given what happens in Twilight (the first book at least.) A Discovery Of Witches is a far, far better product than that though and its similarities only go so far as the basics of plotting.
While the world-building here could be a bit stronger and the use of magic muddied a little by unclear rules (is Diana driven by emotion while conjuring her spells?) A Discovery Of Witches does well to keep things exciting and intriguing across its 8 episodes. It does end on the mother of all cliffhangers though, but given this one’s been renewed for a second season, it’s definitely forgivable and well worth jumping into.