The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself review – gory deaths have rarely looked so beautiful

Hair, Makeup & Prosthetics Designer is Melanie Lenihan

Stunning, artful special effects abound in this witch-based fantasy drama for young adults – adapted from Sally Green’s novels by Giri/Haji writer Joe Barton.

What a title! In the gap between hearing about The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself (Netflix) and watching it, that phrase rolls round the brain like a boulder. An eight-parter created by Joe Barton, who previously wrote Giri/Haji and The Lazarus Project and is therefore as hot right now as TV writers get, The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself (the bastard son! and the devil himself!) is about a teenager at the centre of a war within the European witch community, and is based on a trilogy of slight but popular young adult novels. Too many TV series have similar origins, but if the writer’s identity whispers that this is a different beast, the title shouts it.

The bastard is Nathan (Jay Lycurgo), who is 16 and has, since he was a toddler, been the object of fierce curiosity: “fairborn” witches suspect he is a dangerous “blood” witch like his absent biological father Marcus, who once arrived at peace talks between the fairborns and the bloods, turned into a wolf and killed all the delegates on the fairborn side. When the fairborn leader Soul (Paul Ready, AKA Mr Goodsir from The Terror) arrives in town it means trouble, but it also means his daughter Annalise (Nadia Parkes) is the new girl at Nathan’s school. Nathan and Annalise, lovers not so much star-cross’d as gore-spattered, hit it off.