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Previewing Sanctuary: A Witch’s Tale 

Previewing Sanctuary: A Witch’s Tale

[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]

Two years out from the final season of A Discovery of Witches, AMC goes back to the well this Thursday with the AMC+ and Sundance Now premiere of Sanctuary: A Witch’s Tale. Written and created by Debbie Horsfield and adapted from the bestselling novel by V.V. James, the seven-episode limited series is set in the idyllic English town of Sanctuary — twin city to Salem in the United Sates — and for good reason.

Sanctuary A Witch's Tale

In Sanctuary, witchcraft is practiced in the open, and the community’s resident witch, Sarah Fenn (Elaine Cassidy), is revered as a healer and is the treasured, trusted friend of a close-knit group of women that includes Abigail Whithall (Amy de Bhrun), Bridget Patterson (Valerie O’Connor), and Julia Garston (Kelly Campbell). They’ve raised their children together, and of the three mothers, Abigail is Sarah’s dearest friend. When Abigail’s teenage son, rising rugby standout Dan (Max Lohan), dies in a presumed accident at a party, the women draw together to support her, until whispers start to suggest that something else was involved.

Sanctuary A Witch's Tale

As those whispers grow louder and begin to focus on Sarah’s teenage daughter, Harper (Hazel Doupe), an increasingly despondent Abigail searches for somewhere to place her rage and grief. Soon, the friendships are tested, and the unspoken secrets they shared are weaponized. In the middle of that, newly arrived DCI Maggie Knight (Stephanie Levi-John) is partnered with DC Ryan Henshall (Adam Isla O’Brien) and together they begin to pragmatically investigate the death, looking at all possible scenarios despite the gossip mill’s attempt to fear monger and cast actual stones and their captain’s attempt to shape the narrative.

Sanctuary A Witch's Tale

Right out of the gate, it’s an engaging premise, normalizing and accepting witchcraft and bringing it out of the shadows, until collective grief demands a scapegoat and the other among them is the easy choice. Cassidy is very, very good as a woman who’s been empowered, to a point, but for whom no role or bond is stronger than that of a mother to her daughter, whether her daughter wants that or not.

Sanctuary A Witch's Tale

Way back there, Cassidy headlined the limited run CBS horror series Harper’s Island, which you really should go find on Prime Video or DVD if you’ve never seen it. The rest of the ensemble is terrific, and I really like Levi-John as the unruffleable Maggie. She’s going to do her job and ask the hard questions because sussing out the truth is her only agenda.

Sanctuary A Witch's Tale

Sanctuary: A Witch’s Tale premieres with the first two episodes streaming at 3:01 am/2:01 c on AMC+ and Sundance Now, setting the stage for the fallout that will cascade over the rest of the season once the long-held safety net for Sarah and Harper begins to fray. Here’s a sneak peek.

Photos courtesy of Szymon Lazewski for AMC Networks and video courtesy of AMC Networks.

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