Review: The Witch’s House – Diary of Ellen

(art by Shirana)
(art by Shirana)
  • 魔女の家: エレンの日記 -- Majo no Ie: Eren no Nikki -- “The Witch’s House: The Diary of Ellen”
  • The novel: Amazon -- Books Kinokuniya -- YesAsia
  • The fan translation (by vgperson): vgperson’s blog
  • MAL Entry -- Forum

(Note: This site's central focus is on light novels officially translated and published in English, but at times I will post reviews for stories that have only been translated by fans. Please support the Japanese books that don't get English releases.)

The Witch's House: Diary of Ellen
The Witch’s House: Diary of Ellen

First, a little context. This light novel is a prequel for a Japanese indie horror game made with an RPG Maker program. This game (titled The Witch's House) was translated by vgperson into English, and can be played for free here (which is officially supported by Fummy, the creator of the original game). I recommend giving it a try if you're interested! It only takes a few hours to play through, and a walkthrough is included (on the linked site) if you get stuck on one of the puzzles. I recommend playing through once, and then going back to get the “true ending.” This light novel is still understandable if you haven’t played this game, but it would certainly add a lot to the experience, knowing what ultimately becomes of the two main characters.

The Diary of Ellen, as the title implies, covers the life of Ellen, the girl who would become the witch of The Witch’s House. We get to learn about her childhood, her parents, her ambitions, and all the events that set the stage for the beginning of the game. I found it all very interesting to read, but the way the narrative is laid out may feel dry to some readers. At times, there is that sense of disconnect in listening to someone go over her life story, rather than feeling like you are experiencing the story firsthand. For some readers, it might just take some getting used to.

But all that said, The Diary of Ellen is a rather somber and disquieting piece, and I appreciated just how unique of a perspective was being portrayed with Ellen’s point of view. She is very much a villainous protagonist. She does some very bad things, but because of the harrowing backstory that is laid out and the way her understanding of things is presented, I still found her a sympathetic character to follow. This a story that is as uncomfortable as it is tragic.

And it is those who are interested in reading such a tragedy that I will recommend this one to. This book is not a fun read, but it is a gripping one in the same sort of way that a horror story can engage its readers. The storytelling vibe of the prose itself overall works nicely, and the text is translated with the same level of expertise that can be expected from vgperson. So I won’t only recommend The Witch’s House and its prequel novel The Diary of Ellen, but also some of the other games and novels she has translated. Definitely give some a try, if you are interested in this kind of atmosphere in storytelling.

Cho’s Rating: Recommended

2 thoughts on “Review: The Witch’s House – Diary of Ellen

  1. Wow, I found vgperson’s list of translations very intriguing, definitely will give it a read. Thanks for the hint!

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