My collection of light novels is steadily expanding, and one of the newest additions is one that focuses on a witch travelling from country to country and recounting her experiences.
Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina is written by Jougi Shiraishi, and illustrated by Azure. Yen Press licensed the series for an English release. This first volume contains fourteen chapters.
IT’S NOT ABOUT THE DESTINATION….
What’s your favourite story? Does it have a hero who slays a dragon and saves a princess? Or a child of prophecy destined for greatness? Well, my favourite story is a little different. It’s the tale of a witch who travels the world, seeking nothing in particular. With no quest of her own, she’s free to wander wherever the wind takes her, adding a few pages to the story of whomever she meets before setting off on her next adventure. At the end of her travels, the witch takes on an apprentice who will one day begin her own journey. And so the cycle continues, or so the story goes. Now, the witch who starts the story anew… who could she be?
Reading through Wandering Witch, I was immediately reminded of Kino’s Journey – the premise for both is the same, after all. It is just that Wandering Witch has less talking motorcycles and more magic.
Wandering Witch is written in a first-person perspective, meaning the reader experiences what Elaina sees and thinks through a first-hand account. There’s a running gag at the beginning of most chapters in which a description of a beautiful young girl with ashen hair is given, ultimately leading to Elaina revealing she was describing herself. At least she’s confident, I guess.
Elaina travels from country to country, meeting all sorts on her journey. Even in this first volume alone, there is quite a variety to the places she visits. Some of the things that Elaina experiences include some rather odd beauty standards, a kingdom fallen to ruin and flowers that hold a dark secret.
A handful of chapters also provide a look into Elaina’s past, more specifically how she ended becoming a witch as well as the people who helped her achieve that. These particular chapters give some pretty good insight into Elaina’s character, and certainly help readers develop a greater appreciation of the Ashen Witch.
Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina doesn’t start with Elaina becoming a witch, though. Instead, it jumps right in with Elaina arriving at a country of mages, and meeting a novice by the name of Saya.
I’d say it is a pretty strong start for the light novel, as Elaina and Saya’s interactions do provide some compelling reading. It also gives a pretty good idea of what to expect for most chapters: Elaina arrives in a country, meets people from there, and plays a small part in their story.
If every chapter was like this, however, the formula would wear thin pretty quickly. Fortunately, the “On the Road” chapters and flashbacks to Elaina’s past offer up some variety.
Illustrations for this light novel are drawn by Azure, and it probably won’t come as much surprise to learn that they all prominently feature Elaina. Admittedly there are only a handful scattered throughout the light novel, but they all look great.
There’s no big quest or anything here; just a witch travelling from country to country, and that is perfectly fine. Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina makes for some fun reading. A strong start for the first volume of this light novel series.