A Stepmother’s Märchen
(Seven Seas Entertainment)


Writer: Spice&kitty
Artist: ORKA
Translator: Ipae, Lauren Na
Lettering: Trisha Yucamco, Karis Page
Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment (print) Tapas (digital)
Publication Date: October 17, 2023
Rating: Teen 13+
Genre: Webtoon (S. Korea), Romance, Fantasy

Released under the name The Fantasie of a Stepmother as digital-first on Tapas, Spice&kitty and ORKA’s A Stepmother’s Märchen is finally in print from Seven Seas Entertainment. You might have seen the promotional video on Seven Sea’s social media accounts and found yourself captivated by the stunning cover and those alluring powder pinks and bright greens inside, irresistible to a webtoon lover. It’s surely beautiful on the outside, but what about the story? Let’s talk about that.

At only 14, Shuri married into the most influential household after the royal family, the Neuschwanstein family. The groom, Johannes, is the head of the Neuschwanstein family and a father of four, who passes away two years after the wedding. To honor Johannes’ dying wish, Shuri continues to take care of her stepkids until the eldest, Jeremy, is of age to take over the household formally. These seven years are by no means easy on her. It’s already too late to mend the relationship with her stepchildren while dealing with the attacks of the high society, so she sees no other choice than to leave the estate as Jeremy’s wedding is around the corner. She’s ambushed by bandits on her way out, but unexpectedly, right when she thought for sure she had died, Shuri finds herself reliving the day of Johannes’ funeral. How she will use this second chance and navigate the aftermath of Johannes’ death, her seemingly irreconcilable relationship with the kids, and the constant defamation from the extended family and the nobility is for you to find out.

A Stepmother’s Märchen
(Seven Seas Entertainment)

Compared to some of the other romance fantasy webtoons I’ve read, A Stepmother’s Märchen is considerably more grounded in depicting familial conflicts and the problems Shuri finds herself at the center of. She was only 14 when she was married, not knowing how to conduct herself, let alone take care of a whole family. This union was sprung on the Neuschwanstein kids as well, and naturally, they wouldn’t acknowledge Shuri either as their mother or her authority when she was a kid herself. Abandoned by her family and having endured intense lessons day in and day out, with no allies her age she could confide in or vent, she could only do what she thought was best. 

The prologue introduces the events in Shuri’s first timeline in a way that reads like a twisted fairy tale, using blocks of colors, gradations, or textures for the background and characters as silhouettes. Dark, washed-out neons accompany the subtle but striking imagery. These visual cues immediately set the tone and convey Shuri’s despair and loneliness.

A Stepmother’s Märchen knows that we aren’t just our characteristics. Still, the timing of certain events, experience, luck, and our ever-changing perspective on life are all at play when shaping our reactions or behavior. It was pleasantly surprising to see the second chance trope here isn’t used as a mere tool where Shuri knows what will unfold and does the opposite of what she did in the first timeline. She’s already a smart and persevering young woman, and rewinding those seven years serves as the time needed for Shuri to mature.

A Stepmother’s Märchen interior panel
(Seven Seas Entertainment)

The same determination shows itself in her attempts at connecting with her kids. It was heartwarming to see that, even though they’ve met under unfavorable conditions, she treats and cares for them as if they are her own kids. The creators showcase their talent in crafting believable characters that are a result of their circumstances, and they do change when approached differently or when given the chance.

All the kids act their age and have discernable personalities, which isn’t always easy to pull off. Their oldest, Jeremy, is responsible and composed but has a slightly stubborn side. The youngest twins, Rachel and Leon, are tricksters and are always running on high energy. In contrast, the middle child, Elias, is not the best at expressing his feelings honestly but is incredibly kind and sensitive to his surroundings. It takes a while for the family to find a harmonious home. Still, all it takes for them to steer that way is Shuri actively searching for connection and showing understanding – her newfound “maturity.” With a slight change in her behavior, the children immediately respond to her earnestly.

The series is aware of the weight of the conflicts it depicts, and because they approach these conflicts with care, it’s all the more satisfying when they are resolved. Spice&kitty does a great job of bringing out the emotions and keeping the reader on their toes, all the while not allowing the story to drag its feet and keeping it fun. You’ll never get bored of the Neuschwanstein family’s whimsical expressions!

A Stepmother’s Märchen interior panel
(Seven Seas Entertainment)

The first volume is concerned with setting the story and characters, the extended family members trying to prey on the Neuschwansteins, taking control of their wealth and power, and how, little by little, the inner family dynamics change, ending with an encounter that will hint at a new friendship.

As a reader who’s up-to-date on Tapas, I can say A Stepmother’s Märchen is a slow-burn story that takes time to resolve the circumstances narrative puts its characters into. Matters about the family, politics between the church and nobility, and the current timeline’s connection to the past have priority, while the romance aspect very subtly tags along, slowly but gradually intertwining with the main events. Readers already familiar with the webtoon finally get to put this beautiful print edition on their shelves and see a gorgeous illustration of Shuri at the end. According to Seven Seas’ website, the second volume will be out on November 28, 2023, which means this is the best time to get familiar with the series and see whether it’s worth the hype.