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The Girl of Sera Field: The Good Witch of the West Book One    by Noriko Ogiwara Amazon.com order for
Girl of Sera Field
by Noriko Ogiwara
Order:  USA  Can
TOKYOPOP, 2007 (2007)
Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

The manga version of The Good Witch of the West hit stateside over a year ago, but the basis for it, the novel series, has just arrived with the first volume, The Girl of Sera Field. Noriko Ogiwara's sage is an elaborate fairytale set in a fantasy world where fairytales are banned.

Sera Field, a place where it is rumored that fairies exist, is situated at the far end of the kingdom of Graal. Only five people live in Sera Field: Firiel Dee, a fifteen-year-old girl; her father, Professor Gideon Dee; his apprentice and adoptive son, Rune Ltskin; and Bo and Tabitha Holy, the older couple who live at a house at the base of the observation tower where Professor Dee is constantly studying the stars. Practically raised by Madame Holy, Firiel is happy with her life, although she longs for the kind of adventures she reads about in the books in her father's study. None of her school friends from the nearby farming village have ever heard these stories of princesses and faraway lands, so Firiel has learned to keep them to herself.

However, when Firiel gets to attend the Queen's birthday ball at Count of Rualgo's castle for the first time, she cannot help but feel like Cinderella in her new ball gown accented by the stunning necklace that her father gave her, a necklace that belonged to her long deceased mother. At the ball, Firiel learns that her necklace is more than just a pretty bauble it identifies her royal blood. Even though it is a dream come true, Firiel rejects the offer of Queen-in-Waiting Lady Adele to stay at the castle and learn more of her family. She returns home to find that her life in Sera Field has drastically changed and her family might be in danger. Firiel must accept her fate and Adele's help if she wants to save them.

Firiel is a heroine to whom all girls can relate. She wants the romance and adventure of a fairytale, but she also wants to be strong and independent with a normal life. In her quest for these things, she learns a little more about herself and what family means to her. However, as in many fantasies, her quest is not easy, and she must rely on friends for help. Noriko Ogiwara knows how to write an engaging fantasy that draws the reader in. The story moves quickly as a lot of ground is covered in this first volume of a series. There are a few parts with minor inconsistencies in the writing, but I tend to think this is a translation and/or editing issue, rather than a reflection on Ogiwara's talent.

Fairytale fans will definitely find a good read in Noriko Ogiwara's The Good Witch of the West series. The first book, The Girl of Sera Field, ends happily, but the ever after part is left open for the next episode.

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