February 11, 2020  (Web Review)

A Discovery of Witches

Acorn, 2 discs, 355 min., not rated, DVD or Blu-ray: $39.99

Reviewer rating: 3.5/4

In a world where witches, vampires, and daemons exist and live among us (hiding in plain sight), a witch and vampire fall in love, defying centuries-old taboos and bigotries that keep the races separated. Teresa Palmer stars as Diana, a respected American historian and a witch who has rejected her powers to live as a human, and Matthew Goode is the centuries-old British vampire Matthew, an Oxford genetics professor and member of a powerful vampire dynasty. The plot involves both a rare and powerful magical book that Diana finds—putting her at the center of a power struggle between the races and even within the various clans—and the challenge that Diana and Matthew’s romance poses to the status quo. Based on the bestselling novels by Deborah Harkness, this is a handsome, elegant fantasy drama set in the modern world but shot in Oxford and Venice (locations steeped in history) and the countryside of Wales, all in a style that melds historical drama with contemporary fantasy. It’s more Outlander than Twilight, with its adult romance and dynamic adventure of self-discovery and empowerment, and the two leads have great chemistry and presence. Originally aired in the U.S. on AMC and BBC America, this set compiles all eight episodes from the 2019 debut season, with extras including behind-the-scenes featurettes on the characters, mythology, and special effects. Highly recommended. (S. Axmaker)