In A Discovery of Witches (the TV series based on Deborah Harkness's All Souls trilogy), Ysabeau de Clermont and her servant Marthe both look... grandmotherly, albeit in very different ways. It's clear that both of them are much, much older than they look (speaking Occitan, anyone?), but even so, they don't look like the stereotypical forever-young vampires, either. Do the vampires of this world age, or were Ysabeau and Marthe turned late in life?

(I'm asking based on the TV series, since apparently in the books, Ysabeau is supposed to look slightly younger than her son Matthew.)

  • 1
    I had no idea someone made a TV series out of it. I had mixed feelings on the books for a while before giving up on them after the 3rd, but I could see TV being a decent format for making them watchable if the writing and acting are good.
    – Paul
    May 3, 2019 at 11:16
  • @Paul: after the third or fourth episode of the TV series, I couldn't stand it anymore and ordered the books. I devoured all three, then promptly proceeded to re-read them at a slightly more leisurely pace. They're not perfect (Harkness needs to take editing lessons from Bujold), but I loved them. (Heck, the second book is historical fiction, which I am usually incapable of forcing myself to read, but my only nitpick with this one was the use of opals in one scene.)
    – Martha
    May 10, 2019 at 21:59
  • It's been a few years, maybe I'll give them another try
    – Paul
    May 11, 2019 at 0:07

1 Answer 1


Having now read the books (twice), I believe the answer is "no, they don't age, but film is an imperfect medium."

Marthe was indeed turned late in life, so she's supposed to look like she's in her 60s or 70s. That's easy.

With Ysabeau, it was the proverbial "pick any two" dilemma: gorgeous, young, and terrifying don't generally coexist in human females, and since vampires don't tend to show up to casting calls, well, the casting director in this case (apparently with the author's full blessing) chose gorgeous and terrifying and ran with it.

As with all casting questions, it helps to keep in mind that the role of Juliet was originally played by a young boy.

Editing to add: I found an interview with Deborah Harkness where she basically says the same thing:

And the other thing is like really we only have human beings to capture these characters. [...] Remember it’s an adaptation. Remember sort of like the great Mart, Martha, Marta comment, that there’s kind of no right way to do any of this, because it is an interpretation, just like you could go see a Shakespeare play and everybody’s wearing flower costumes. Did Shakespeare ever imagine that? Hell no..

("the great Mart, Martha, Marta comment" refers to an earlier question in the same interview about the correct pronunciation of Marthe.)

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