Witch of Thistle Castle, Volume 1

Writer/Artist: John Tarachine
Letterer: Cale Ward and Jessica Burton
Publisher: Titan Manga (Titan Comics imprint)
Translator: Jonathan Clements and Matoko Tamamuro
Publication Date: October 31, 2023Somewhat Recommend
Rating: 15+
Genre: Manga (JP), Fantasy, Supernatural

REVIEW RATING: ⭐⭐⭐1/2. Witch of Thistle Castle, Volume 1, displays beautiful art in a heartfelt story about a witch and her apprentice finding their place in a world that hates their very existence.

Set in Edinburgh, Scotland, Witch of Thistle Castle, written by John Tarachine, follows an outcast witch, Marie, and a powerful teenager, Theo. Marie is responsible for protecting the world and Theo himself from the amazing power within him. 

Theo is a 13-year-old boy with an immense power living within him called the “blood of righteous anger.” The Church of Edinburgh has been his caretaker up until this point in his life; however, they’ve treated him like a prisoner, keeping him from the outside world. When we first meet him, he’s brought into Marie’s magic shop with his hands bound and a mask/cloak covering his identity. Marie isn’t keen on taking him in but reluctantly agrees after seeing how he was brought in. 

Theo doesn’t know anything about his power, so Marie has to teach him how magic is used. I enjoyed learning about the magic system along with Theo. Marie explains that witches can see spirits, and by negotiating with them, they can use magic. She warns him that to use magic, he needs to have a stable mind because the spirits can overpower him.

When Marie and Theo were out, I loved seeing the architecture around them; the detail on the buildings made them stand out on the page. In this volume, we also learn that the church is an entity that holds power and plays an important role in the jobs that some witches take.

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An element that I would have liked to have the creators explore more was what the general population knew about spirits and magic. They mention witches being burned alive in the past but don’t go into the dynamic between witches and humans in the present time. It’s also unclear whether humans know about the existence of spirits. The series preview states that Marie and Theo find a place for themselves in a world that hates them, so I felt like this story element fell flat. There is animosity between the church and Marie and Theo, so I hope there is more development in this area in future volumes. 

The art in this volume was my favorite part of the series. During the earlier pages, when there was more uncertainty for Theo, the art was dark and grainy to reflect the mood. The series maintains a dark feel throughout, but the art slightly lightens as the story continues and Theo starts to get out of his shell. When they revealed someone new or an important moment, the panels were extremely detailed and had a shoujo/josei art style that added elegance. 

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VERDICT: Somewhat Recommend. If you’re looking for a fantasy manga about witches and spirits, I would check this out. If you’re looking for something like Witch Hat Atelier with more action, this series might not be for you as it has a slower pace. There are conflicts throughout the story, but the action is very minimal. Some parts of the story weren’t as satisfying as I would have liked, but overall, I found the power system/magic in this unique and enjoyed the art throughout. 

(featured image: Titan Comics)

Will you be adding this to your to-be-read list? Leave a comment below! Titan Comics released the fantasy supernatural manga Witch of Thistle Castle on October 31, 2023. The volume has five chapters and is available in print, digital, and retail for $12.99