A Discovery of Witches is a bold and romantic thriller. Picture: Binge/Sky
A Discovery of Witches is a bold and romantic thriller. Picture: Binge/Sky

Show is ‘best kept secret on streaming’

A Discovery of Witches is finally returning with a second season more than two years since the finale aired.

The first season, streaming on Binge, told the story of Diana Bishop (Teresa Palmer), an American history professor studying at Oxford whose life is altered when she comes into contact with a mysterious manuscript called Ashmole 782.

The medieval document unleashes her latent powers as a witch and throws her into the path of handsome vampire Matthew de Clairmont (Matthew Goode).

Witch and vampire fall in love despite the odds, and visit a lot of European landmarks and libraries along the way.

But if the highly-addictive first season felt like a riff on Twilight for discerning scholars, then season 2 feels like the true history nerd's version of Outlander.

A Discovery of Witches season two drops on Binge tomorrow. Picture: Simon Ridgway/Supplied by BINGE
A Discovery of Witches season two drops on Binge tomorrow. Picture: Simon Ridgway/Supplied by BINGE

In A Discovery of Witches Season 2, Diana and Matthew use her magic to travel back to Elizabethan England, a place Diana has researched her whole life.

Because of this, Diana is the rare TV time traveller with a real awe and respect for the setting she's finds herself in, and the series itself effortlessly weaves historic figures into Matthew's backstory and Diana's path.

The second season, which hits Binge tomorrow, isn't just a lovely follow up to the show's first season, but it could also be just the thing to tie over Outlander fans yearning for more magical time travel romance.

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Matthew Goode as Matthew Clairmont and Teresa Palmer as Diana Bishop. Picture: Binge/Sky
Matthew Goode as Matthew Clairmont and Teresa Palmer as Diana Bishop. Picture: Binge/Sky

A Discovery of Witches is based on Deborah Harkness' All Souls trilogy, a dreamy series of books that took Harkness' own background as a scholar of the history of science, magic, alchemy and the occult to bring to life a magical world rooted in historical realism.

Harkness' tale leans heavily on the academic roots of witch, demon, and vampire myths, along with medieval theories about alchemy, to tell a fantasy romance that feels like it could almost really happen.

If Season 1 of A Discovery of Witches earned its academic stripes in the hallowed halls of Oxford University's modern day campus and Europe's gorgeous castles, Season 2 immerses us in the historic world Harkness' scholarship is consumed with.

From the moment that Diana and Matthew land in 1590 London, they are greeted by historic luminaries. We learn that legendary playwright Christopher "Kit" Marlowe (Tom Hughes) is a demon in this universe - while it's unclear if he was a demon in real life, historians believe he was involved with the period's dangerous spy games - and Matthew himself turns out to be contemporary poet Matthew Roydon.

A Discovery of Witches Season 2 is based on the second book in Harkness' series, Shadow of Night, which is a riff on the "School of Night," a cultural circle to which the historic Marlowe and Roydon both belonged. We also get to meet the likes of Mary Sidney (Amanda Hale), Sir Walter Raleigh (Michael Lindall), Henry Percy (Adam Sklar), and even Queen Elizabeth I (Barbara Marten).

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A Discovery of Witches Season 2 brings Elizabethan England to life as both an escapist fantasy world for history nerds like Diana and a minefield of danger.

If the fantasy of A Discovery of Witches Season 1 was that a smart and powerful (and beautiful) woman could claim the cold lifeless heart of a handsome vampire, then the fantasy of Season 2 is that a history nerd girl gets to submerge herself in the time period she's spent a lifetime obsessing over.

The way Diana's face beams as she clamps eyes on old St. Paul's Cathedral or the excitement she gets when she recognises her historic heroes … It's something any history buff would want to live vicariously through.

Of course, time travel isn't the only thing that makes A Discovery of Witches Season 2 so wonderfully escapist.

Once again, it's about a witch who is in love with a vampire. Diana isn't just any witch, though, she's a special witch who needs special instruction to tame her abilities. Matthew also isn't just any vampire, but a politically-connected one with a dark side he must confront.

A Discovery of Witches is pure wish fulfilment, from its decadent settings, steamy romance, and straight up displays of magic.

It is a pure treat of a show - dreamy, steamy, and full of gorgeous costumes and fabulous performances.

It will whisk you far away from the mess of contemporary times, which honestly is something we all need right now.

This article originally appeared on Decider and was reproduced with permission

Originally published as Show is 'best kept secret on streaming'



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