So far, really the only thing the show has in common with the books is:
1. The protagonist is named Cassie Blake
2. She returns to town to complete a coven
3. Some of the parents of her fellow teenage witches are dead due to something mysterious, even if its been explained away by a simple reason (boat fire versus died in hurricane).
4. Cassie and Adam are attracted to each other, but he has a girlfriend.
The TV Cassie is a confident character with a strong sense of right and wrong. She’s instantly likable. Over the course of the novels, Cassie grows from shy and mousy to a confident leader. Sometimes, her timidity, like when she’s being blackmailed, is annoying. Her mother is still alive in the books, although I can see why she was killed off. In the books, she’s barely there and even mousier than Cassie. Plus she spends the third book in a catatonic state. Killing her off is easier, and it sets a dark tone from the beginning and shows the stakes are high, e.g. life and death. Given how strong Cassie is in the TV show, she’s going to take action when she finds out her mother didn’t die in an accident.
The book parents are virtually uninvolved. We briefly see Diana’s father once, and the only parental-type characters are Cassie’s grandmother, who dies, and two more grandmothers and a great aunt. They are good (as opposed to evil) characters and add a little to the coven’s knowledge of past events, but they don’t take action on their own. All we know of the book parents is that the ones still alive were cowards.
I’m curious where the TV show writers are going with the parents’ plotline, as they’re evil and manipulative from the beginning since they killed Cassie’s mom to ensure Cassie returns to town. Somehow, Cassie’s presence gives them power they crave.
There are fewer characters in the TV show, but that makes sense since a coven of twelve people is a lot of characters to keep track of. The casting on the TV show seems good. Britt Robertson is a great Cassie, and the rest of the cast is believable. Faye is more unstable on the TV show, but just as power hungry as her book counterpart. Melissa is a new character who might be a combination of several book characters but is probably a creation of the writing staff. Nick is nothing like his book counterpart, and he’s wonderfully creepy. We’ll see how Adam and Diana develop, but so far they’re similar to the books.
There’s a strong sense of destiny in Cassie and Adam’s book relationship, and the show has eluded to that by having Adam’s father talk about how the two are destined to be together. We’ll see how this plays out in the TV show—it worked in the book.
The change in setting surprised me, as I liked the faux-historical context of the book setting. Really? Long-standing witch tradition in Washington? Not exactly what I would have chosen, and I’m a sucker for TV shows set in the Pacific Northwest. Plus the history of the books added to the overall story arc; we’ll see if that’s a factor in the TV show.
And what’s up with the the coven binding together? This also differs from the novels. In the books, the full coven can accomplish more together, but each person has individual talents and skills. (In the books, Faye and Cassie seem the most powerful and are able to light stuff on fire, etc.)
So far, I enjoy the TV show and I think my fifteen-year-old self would have approved. (Although she might have been annoyed by the changes because she was liked her adaptation literal.) The novels have a definite arc over three novels, and I’ll be curious to see if the show has a large arc they complete, or how they create long-term conflict.