New York Comic Con premiered the first episode of A Discovery of Witches, the upcoming fantasy series based on Deborah Harkness’ All Souls trilogy of novels about a shadowy world of demons, witches, and vampires that secretly live among us in modern-day Oxford, England.
In the premiere episode, we’re introduced to Diana Bishop, a respected young academic who’s returned to Oxford after many years to deliver a lecture. What the students listening to her don’t know is that she’s a witch with magical powers she’s largely ignored and of which she isn’t very well in control.
But, when she finds an ancient book at the Oxford library that apparently has been lost for centuries, she’s targeted by vampires and possibly other dark forces who will do anything to get their hands on it as it threatens to enflame greater tensions between the vampire and witch societies.
One vampire in particular, Matthew Clairmont (Matthew Goode), however, seems to take a liking to Bishop and even tries to protect her from a mysterious creature in the episode’s closing moments.
After the screening, Deborah Harkness came out and discussed the adaptation process. Originally, the story was optioned for a movie, but she says she prefers it as a series for the opportunity it affords her to tell a more expanded story without having to make major cuts to the narrative arcs:
I think that TV’s ability to linger on stories, to develop characters, to give you that sense that you’re on a journey with them, it’s just is so much more feasible to tell a story of big, epic scope with a big cast of characters on a television series than it is on a 90-minute movie framework.
Though Harkness says some plot points have changed in the translation from the book to the streaming series, what she sought most to retain is the spirit of the books and keeping true to the characters. She further said the first season would tell the complete story of the first book in her trilogy.
The full eight episode first season of A Discovery of Witches drops on Sundance Now and Shudder streaming services January 17, 2019.