Review by C.J. Bunce
The first volume of Witch of Thistle Castle arrives in comic shops today (and here at Amazon), John Tarachine’s manga series first published in Japan in 2019. The star is Marie Blackwood, the latest in a long line of witches of the Black Wood, she resides in modern day Edinburgh, Scotland. Her kind is known to the Church, who assigns her the task of taking on a very powerful young teen apprentice, a boy named Theo. But Marie isn’t at all what you could possibly expect.
She might be a little bit like the Wizarding World’s Hermione Granger, and she may have the instincts of Buffy Summers, the vampire slayer. Marie speaks to spirits only she sees, entities who flit about her home and her day, much like those fey who surround Briar Rose of Sleeping Beauty. If she’s like Buffy, it’s a flip of roles, with Buffy as the Watcher and Theo the young newbie unsure of his powers, ready to learn.
Much of this first volume is Tarachine (also known as John Taratsumi) investing the reader in world building, and this is an interesting world to step into. Theo is called the “Blood of the Righteous Anger,” but what does that really mean for him? When we first meet him he is completely chained and contained like a wild serial criminal, with evidence of being tortured like something from a horror story. What is Marie in for? It’s not like she has any choice in the matter.
Like Wednesday Addams, Marie has a bubbly, cheery blond friend–Kiki–who brings levity to the seriousness of the two dark leads. This world established its witching world very different from what readers may think of from witches and sorcery. Here magic is really a negotiation with a spirit for something you want, or something you want to happen. We’re told many urban myths are derived from magic, and here the duo must use classical music to help a client.
Infused into the story is some light romance, as Theo is handsome (as Kiki keeps pointing out), and suddenly Marie is left to live with a male for the first time, and an encounter with a young man from France takes the duo out of the country where witches are even more welcome. This is a good introductory volume for fans of fantasy, long-time manga readers, and anyone delving into manga for the first time.
Can Marie protect Theo, and the world, from the power Theo keeps within?
Find out in the manga Witch of Thistle Castle, Volume 1, in its first English translation, out today from Titan Comics, written and illustrated by John Tarachine. Add this to your pull list at Elite Comics, your local comic shop, or find it here at Amazon in the U.S. or at Forbidden Planet in the UK.