Carnival Row – or should that be Carnival Wow

This series did the rounds on Sky a good few years ago now. I saw Orlando Bloom was in it (as main character Rycroft Philostrate, Philo for short) and jumped on the first episode, but I barely made it through the hour. Now it’s back on Amazon Prime, and I’ve finally had the chance to give it another go. And I’m really glad I did.

I can’t even start to think why I didn’t like it the first time round. Something, for some reason, just didn’t gel. But coming to it fresh, I loved the originality, the world building, and the black-as-night atmosphere. I loved Bloom’s performance, too – which had a depth that, having only seen him in light, frothy movies, I honestly didn’t know he was capable of. By turns taciturn, dogged, and heart-breaking, he absolutely ‘made’ the series for me. But there was loads more to love, too.

The fairy wings were a tad too small to be believable, but other special effects were excellent and the scenery, unusually, didn’t have that “painted on cardboard” look. The different forms of fae were well imagined, and the way they were treated was all too real.

I loved the plot strand that involved Philo’s mother, which was so subtle it almost passed me by, and on top of everything else the series’ music was wonderful. The song that featured in one of the later episodes was particularly haunting and I’ve managed to track it down on YouTube. Have a listen if you like ethereal, folky type music, or the song that Florence (of The Machine) sang for Game of Thrones.

So far I’ve only watched the first season and am pleased to see there’s another two to go. I’m really hoping it stays as gripping, dark, and startlingly realistic (considering it’s about fairies!) as the first has been.



  1. I adored season 1 and like you was surprised by Bloom’s acting. Then I realised he was partly responsible for this production so clearly he has depths other directors never found!!

    1. Or was just more “invested” in the role, perhaps. But it was incredible. Sadly, because it’s “just” fantasy I don’t suppose he won any awards for it.

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