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Shaping Season 2 of 'A Discovery of Witches'—The Characters, the History, and the Challenges

A release date for Season 2 hasn't been revealed.

By Rachel CarringtonPublished 5 years ago 4 min read

When A Discovery of Witches, the paranormal drama adaptation of Deborah Harkness' All Souls Trilogy, debuted in September 2018, no one could have predicted the overwhelming success of the series. With the program being renewed for Seasons two and three, fans are eager to learn as much as they can about Matthew Clairmont, Diana Bishop, and all the characters that make up this fantasy world.

This couldn't be more evident than by the Amazon ranking of the first book in the All Souls Trilogy, which is aptly titled A Discovery of Witches. As of this writing, it's currently ranked #26 in Vampire Thrillers and #29 in Witch and Wizard Thrillers. And the book released in 2011. The second and third titles in the series are ranking even higher in similar or comparable categories while a companion to the series, The World of All Souls: The Complete Guide to A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night, and The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy), which was released in 2018, is a number one bestseller in Horror and Supernatural Literary Criticism at Amazon.

The All Souls Trilogy

Fans are magnetized by the characters existing in the All Souls Trilogy and for those following their journey as it plays out on television screens, it's a dream come true. And while Matthew and Diana take the lead in the series, the world would not be complete if even one character was removed. Deborah Harkness agrees, saying there are no minor characters in the trilogy.

All of them are make or break characters to me. I think of Sorcha Cusack, for example, who plays Marthe. She is an absolutely crucial character in the All Souls world, the one person who knows ALL the history that is relevant to the story. She knows even more than Philippe did! It was crucial to me that the role of Marthe be cast perfectly. It would ruin everything for me if she weren’t superb. And she is. Sorcha IS Marthe. The same is true for all the cast. Philippe is no more or less important than any of my other characters to the unfolding of this complex story. I like to say that there are no minor characters in the All Souls Trilogy, and would like the same to be true for the dramatization.

Teresa Palmer and Sorcha Cusack/A Discovery of Witches

There is little doubt that the casting directors were challenged to choose actors that could become these characters so convincingly that fans would hereafter connect them with their namesakes. As Harkness says, "the casting directors for both Series 1 and Series 2 are looking specifically for cast who can embody the characters, rather than slavishly going for a specific “look.” And with Season two taking the series into the 1590s, all eyes are on the next batch of actors to step into the All Souls World as the new time period brings its own set of challenges.

Maintaining historical accuracy will be a tough mission for the crew behind the scenes of A Discovery of Witches. The Elizabethan era is known for its lack of hygiene and overpopulation. History buffs may be expecting a certain look and feel to accurately depict the era. And, according to Harkness, the show will "strive to give viewers something that an Elizabethan person would recognize, if presented to them." But she does caution that the color palette will be different and adds, "people will not be filthy. City streets will not be filthy. We are not in Victorian or Georgian London, where the infrastructure of the city has collapsed under the weight of the steeply rising population."

It isn't unheard of for lighter historical dramas to take license with the look and feel of the past, changing everything from the clothing worn in the time period to making life seem a whole lot easier than it was. But Harkness assures that A Discovery of Witches is going for something "grounded, authentic, and as accurate as we can make it."

Still, she admits that some people will be nervous because "it doesn’t “look” like what people have seen on screen before; and that...challenges expectations. But that’s how we learn: by being a bit nervous and uncomfortable as we put our preconceptions and prejudices aside and embrace the past on its own messy, complex, and fascinating terms."

And fans of the book series that have watched the adaptation will freely admit they were nervous about the actors that would be portraying Matthew Clairmont and Diana Bishop because of the established rapport and chemistry. Episode one of the first season allayed their fears with perfect casting of the couple and the characters that make up this world. So while it will be a wait to discover who will embody future characters, more than likely, the wait will be worthwhile.

Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer as Matthew Clairmont and Diana Bishop

And speaking of wait, while preparations for season two is underway, there will be quite the lag time before it makes its debut. At present, it has not yet been scheduled, and while that can make viewers and fans anxious, it also presents them with an opportunity to get to know the present and upcoming characters in the second season.

The television series doesn't have the opportunity to delve in to the backstories of all the characters, but the books upon which the series is based provide a treasure trove of information that may never make it to the screen, offering intricate elements that shaped the characters Harkness created.

Though A Discovery of Witches has many fans who haven't read the books, Harkness believes viewers don't get the full picture without reading the series.

I don’t think the viewers get the full picture without reading the books. I would say the same thing to readers who haven’t watched the show! There are many different perspectives brought to light in the show that readers won’t get the chance to catch up with for a while in novel form. Similarly, viewers might want to take a deeper dive into Diana’s mindset by reading the books. It’s up each individual, really.

There is plenty of time between the first and second seasons to learn more about the witches, vampires, and daemons populating this world. Of course, those readers still on the fence about viewing the television adaptation can take heart that the series does the books justice, and with the first season coming in at just eight episodes, there is plenty of time to binge-watch before Season 2.

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About the Creator

Rachel Carrington

I'm an avid writer and reader. I've had over 53 novels published and over 2,000 articles. Here I review movies, TV series/episodes, books, and write about entertainment. www.rachelcarrington.com

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    Rachel CarringtonWritten by Rachel Carrington

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