Fans of The Ancient Magus’ Bride (both the manga by Kore Yamazaki and the anime adaptation) might also find a very enjoyable read in Witch of Thistle Castle Vol. 01 by John Tarachine. Both manga series shares very similar premises in having a powerful magic user take in an unskilled but very high potential apprentice. The big differences here though is that the story swapped the gender of the two main characters Marie and Theo, but the story seems to be a bit more obvious about the budding romance between them…or is it?
Witch of Thistle Castle Vol. 01: Details
Witch of Thistle Castle Vol. 01 is the first volume a new fantasy romance manga series by John Tarachine (Sex Education). Titan Comics is the publisher of this manga here in NA region, under their Titan Manga imprint.
Witch of Thistle Castle Vol. 01 will go on sale on October 31, 2023 (just in time for Halloween) for a retail price of $12.99. If you can’t wait for that date, then you can preorder it right now at Amazon, B&N, Books-A-Million, Indigo, Local Comic Shop, and Forbidden Planet (UK).
Witch of Thistle Castle Vol. 01: Synopsis
Normally, this would be the part of the review where I give you all a spoiler-filled summary of the plot. However, this is the pre-release version of my reviews, so thus I will give you all the official synopsis of Witch of Thistle Castle Vol. 01 from Titan Manga instead. You can check that out below:
A JAPANESE SPIN ON HARRY POTTER AND CHARMED!
A HEARTFELT MANGA ABOUT A WITCH AND HER APPRENTICE FROM CREATOR JOHN TARACHINE!
Spirits and magic are everywhere in the streets of Edinburgh – if only you dare to see it!
Dive into this heartfelt manga about a witch and her apprentice as they try to find their place in a world that hates their very existence.
The last in a long line of Witches of the Black Wood, Marie Blackwood lives a quiet life in Edinburgh – away from the scrutiny of the Church.
But when the Church thrusts 13-year-old Theo into her hands for safekeeping, Marie suddenly gains the responsibility not just of taking care of a teenager – but protecting the world and Theo himself, from the amazing power that lives inside of him.
Witch of Thistle Castle Vol. 01: The Good
For me, the narrative is the best part of Witch of Thistle Castle Vol. 01, and this is the most important bit. As you can tell in the synopsis, John Tarachine put the most development and emphasis on the budding relationship between Marie Blackwood and Theo. Indeed, we see an interestingly loving relationship starting to develop between them, even in this first volume. Now, whether that love is romantic or familial is anyone’s guess at this point. You would think that Leon’s 13 years of age in this story would make it be the latter, but there are strong hints that it’s the former too. Just like The Ancient Magus’ Bride, really. We’ll just have to see how the plot handles that in future volumes of this manga.
It’s not just the narrative that’s good, though. John Tarachine did a marvelous job with the worldbuilding in Witch of Thistle Castle Vol. 01. John Tarachine has crafted a very interesting world here, in which witches coexist with spirits who live in the world alongside them, as well as the Church that either conscripting them or hunting them depending on the era. Honestly, it’s a surprisingly dark fantasy story when you take those points into consideration. It’s why I keep comparing this manga to The Ancient Magus’ Bride. That manga too, is a dark fantasy, making it share many things with this manga.
Finally, John Tarachine’s artwork is pretty lavish. As you can see in the cover art and sample pages, Tarachine has a lovely art style. Lots of detail for the environment, clothing, etc.. It’s a small thing, but it adds to just how great The Ancient Magus’, er, I mean, Witch of Thistle Castle Vol. 01 is.
Witch of Thistle Castle Vol. 01: The Bad
The only thing one can consider to be bad about Witch of Thistle Castle Vol. 01 is that it shares something with Alpi: The Soul Sender Vol. 01. Both manga series are not action-heavy stories. Sure, this manga has just the tiniest bit more action than Alpi: The Soul Sender, but if you’re looking for the next Bleach, Dragon Ball, or even Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, this is not it. This manga is for the ones who enjoy a more slow-paced story with romance and drama as the prime focus to it, aside from the fantasy, of course.