Dream My Own Dreams

Noriko Ogiwara & Haruhiko Momokawa
Good Witch of the West, book 1

Gw1

The Good Witch of the West, Volume 1, is the first installment of a manga adaptation of Noriko Ogiwara’s eponymous light novel series. Art is by Haruhiko Momokawa. translation is by Barbara Randall Kessell.

Firiel Dee was raised in rustic isolation by her widower father and his elderly retainers, with surly apprentice Rune as her main companion. Accompanied by a more outgoing friend, Firiel decides to attend a ball given by a local count. Just like Cinderella in the fairy tale. Matters develop in a non-Cinderella direction.


Although Rune is taciturn to a fault, he makes a point of warning Firiel not to wear an expensive necklace inherited from her mom. Precisely why this would be a bad idea is not explained. Of course Firiel wears the necklace to the ball and of course the bauble is noted by someone who knows what it signifies.

What Firiel does not know (but readers do, thanks to a brief prologue) is that her mother had defied her royal family to marry Firiel’s father. Professor Dee was too poor, too odd, to be a fit suitor for a royal princess. Mom is long dead but her daughter Firiel lives. And has inherited mom’s necklace. And is a potential royal heir.

Some royal families might act quickly to eliminate pesky heirs. Firiel’s newfound kin want to assimilate her. They offer to take her into their palace and give her the education proper for a princess. Firiel declines. She is happy with the family that she has.

Or had. Soon after she refuses assimilation, her home is burned, the retainers are killed, and her father vanishes on a mysterious errand. Only Rune remains. He helps Firiel escape death. He is her only ally — an ally who (Firiel learns) belongs to a mysterious group with secret goals.

How long can Firiel stay free?

 ~oOo~

At least Firiel’s new relatives don’t want to have her sewn up in a sack and trampled by elephants! As far as I know. However, they are concerned about some (ambiguous as always) prophecies and some rumblings of dissent. They may later decide that Firiel is a threat. As they seem to have decided that her family was a threat.

I greatly enjoyed the two volumes of Ogiwara’s Tales of the Magatama, translated by Haikasoru, so I had high hopes for Good Witch. Alas, this manga failed to entice. The story It may be that Ogiwara’s story ventures off in unconventional directions in later volumes. was entirely conventional: hidden princess, dead mother, mysterious prophecies, secret groups. To paraphrase Pratchett, tropes are the bricks and mortar from which stories are constructed. In this case, the bricks and mortar are so well-used as to be boring.

Nor is Firiel all that interesting as a character. Perhaps the author felt it more important to sketch the setting and set the storyline in motion. But other manga have accomplished the same tasks in more interesting ways and with more attention to character development.

Of course, it may be that Ogiwara’s story will head in unexpected directions in later volumes. Possible but … I have many books, little time. I probably will not seek out further volumes of this series, although I might give the light novels a try.

The Good Witch of the West, volume 1 is available here (Amazon). It does not seem to be available from Chapters-Indigo.


Comments

  • David Goldfarb

    That's "Kesel", not "Kessell".

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