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Webcomic / A Stepmothers Marchen

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A young stepmother and her journey for her "Happily Ever After" Note 

The Iron Widow, the Spider Widow, the Male Hunter, the Witch of the Neuschwanstein Castle, the embarrassment of noble ladies... These were all the words used to describe the Marchioness Shuli Von Neuschwanstein. Despite receiving such harsh criticism from everyone, she persisted in raising her "children", left behind from her late husband. On the day of her eldest son's wedding, signaling his possession of the family's seat as Marquess, she felt she had finally tied up all loose ends and could live the rest of her life out peacefully. However, she had been terribly mistaken as she finds herself getting caught up in an accident and dying whilst leaving the castle on his wedding day. Upon opening her eyes, she finds herself waking up to the day of her husband's funeral, seven years ago.

"I refuse to suffer any more. I won’t live as I did in the past a second time!"


A fairy tale featuring a Stepmother, with a twist.

A Stepmother's Marchen is a korean Webtoon adapted from the webnovel written by Nyangiwa Hyangshinlo (Kitty and Spices), famed as being the author for the webnovel, "A Fairy Tale For Villains", and illustrated by ORKA.

The Webnovel is completed. The Webtoon can be read here in Korean. The comic was licensed in English by Tapas Media under the name The Fantasie of a Stepmother.

Warning: A good portion of the Tropes elaborated here contains spoilers from the completed Webnovel. You have been warned.

Tropes in A Stepmother's Marchen:

  • Abusive Parents: Shuli did not have a very happy family life before Johanes Von Neuschwanstein brought her in. Her father is a drunkard who wasted his family's riches on alchohol and her mother was verbally abusive. Her brother is not even any better and generally a huge Jerkass. Despite the initial strain with her stepchildren, her life in the Neuschwanstein household seems more bearable in comparison (And it gets better for Shuli after Time Travel).
  • Adaptational Heroism: The Webtoon does a few of this in regards to the original timeline counterparts of some characters.
    • Ohara gets this in the Webtoon, as her Webnovel counterpart is far more rude to Shuli even at a young age after Shuli time travelled, in contrast, the webtoon's Ohara was far more decent and polite to her. She also gets an Adaptation Expansion in regards to why she told the lie of Jeremy not wanting to see her in the day of his wedding in the original timeline. She saw the fallout of her father's adulterous affair affecting her mother and fear that she too will experience what her mother faced.
    • Abbington, the Head Knight guard of the Neuschwanstein family was involved in Shuli's death and unrepentant of his involvement of her death in the Webnovel version, believing her to be a disgrace who sullied the first Marchioness. In the webtoon, however, instead of being involved, Abbington told the wrong person about where Shuli would be going during the day of Jeremy's wedding, even trying to list reasons for Shuli to still go to the wedding and avoid the ambush that was set up to kill her.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: A Webnovel Sidestory reveals that the events that led to Shuli's death in the first timeline can be traced back to Shuli's inexperience which led to Shuli herself taking desperate and impulsive measures, which are misunderstood by everyone else in society, as her reputation at the time makes her a perfect scapegoat for the Corrupt Church and others who wish to take the inheritance of the Neuschwanstein family, and plan to kill her. Telling Shuli that she only has her own self to blame.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Shuli gives one of these to Lady Reicher when she comes for help concerning Jeremy's trial. The Reicher matriarch slanders Shuli, saying that she took her daughter's place as the Lady of Neuschwanstein, is trying to seduce her son, and since she can't play tricks or harass Shuli without some form of backlash she would rather Jeremy lose an arm to teach Shuli a lesson. Before she leaves, Shuli asks what the honor House Reicher means to Lady Reicher if she would sacrifice their own grandchild (and thus risk cutting all contact with the rest of the grandchildren, who at this point are the only grandchildren that Lady Reicher has as well as her last connection to her late daughter) to protect it and teach someone a lesson in humility.
  • Becoming the Mask: Shuli initially tried to be a good mother for the Neuschwanstein children out of obligation, but over time, she started to see the Neuschwanstein children as her kids.
  • Belated Love Epiphany: Played with in the original timeline. It wasn't until after her death did Shuli's stepchildren truly realize that they loved her, having planned to surprise her with flowers at Jeremy's wedding. Played straight with Jeremy in the original timeline, who was said to have gone mad after Shuli's death, and even referred to Shuli as his late lover.
  • Big Bad: The Vatican, though more specifically, Cardinal Richlieu, as he's the one behind the schemes in order to discredit Shuli and the Neuschwanstein household in an attempt to steal the inheritance of the house and out of an obsessive, creepy Villainous Crush on Shuli.
  • Chastity Couple: It's revealed in Jeremy's trial that Johanes and Shuli never consummated their marriage when the question as to why Shuli never had children with her husband is brought up. She explains that her marriage was more of a contract where Johanes was more of a benefactor for her education and introduction into society than one of a husband and wife. The church officials at the hearing then try to use this as a basis for Shuli to be divorced from the Neuschwanstein family and lose custody of her stepchildren.
  • Corrupt Church: The Vatican has designs to take full control of the empire and are the major antagonizing forces that the royal family and nobles have to worry of. They are adamant to take control of the Neuschwanstein fortune by any means necessary to fund their own army of holy knights.
  • Declaration of Protection: Jeremy gives one of these to Shuli after his trial. In the original timeline, Nora gives a posthumous version to Shuli, swearing to find those responsible for her death and avenge her.
  • Downer Ending: The Webnovel and the finale of the first season contains the events detailing to how Shuli died and what happens after Shuli died in the original timeline. And things don't look too good in several aspects.
    • Shuli's death caused a heavy strain going on with the Neuschwanstein children. First, they never get to properly apologize to Shuli and make peace with her, and to make things worse, Ohara, who was partially responsible for leading Shuli to her death in the first timeline, seduced and pulled the baby trap to marry Elias in a last ditch effort to save her family's bloodline. Jeremy, Rachel and Leon were rightfully pissed at Elias for hitching up with the woman who was involved with the death of their stepmother and stretch the strained relationship further.
    • Without Shuli involved, Nora's relationship with his parents remains strained in the first timeline and when the duke realized his mistake for never believing him, it's far too late and Nora refused to have anything to do with his parents anymore (His father, especially).
    • The aftermath following Shuli's death cause the Neuschwanstein family name to be even more tarnished due to the scandals surrounding Shuli's impulsive and desperate attempts to protect the children and the events that followed after her death.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: It's a long, long process, but Shuli and the children ultimately gained it.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: A look in the original timeline regarding Nora's whereabouts reveals that he actually met Shuli once. While Nora remembers her fondly, and is able to see her for who she is underneath the unpleasant rumors about her, Shuli doesn't remember the meeting due to a combination of stress and worry for her stepchildren's future and well-being.
  • For Want of a Nail: Time Travel cause Shuli to take different steps that changed quite a lot of things:
    • Shuli opted out from kicking the Neuschwanstein relatives out of the household and instead, brought Lucretia and Valentino to stay in the mansion to help the children. Lucretia and Valentino scheming to discredit Shuli led to the Neuschwanstein children finally seeing Shuli for who she is, and realize that their relatives have plans to take control of their father's inheritance. After Lucretia and Valentino were dealt with, Shuli's relationship with her stepchildren steadily improved.
    • Deciding to leave out town to shop for clothing and other needs, a chance encounter with her brother led to Shuli and the children to be acquainted with Nora Von Nuremberg far earlier in time.
    • Seeing Shuli defend Jeremy over an accusation from a noble family who insulted the late Johanes and Shuli, Heidi Von Nuremberg made a request for Shuli to talk to her son, Nora, the subsequent meetings bore fruit and with Shuli's encouragements, Heidi took steps to become a good mother for her son.
    • Shuli gained the favor and respect of Empress Elizabeth during the trial where Shuli reveals that she never had an intercourse with Johanes and how she's only brought into the household to safeguard the children, mostly Jeremy, until he is old enough to take over the house. The lengths Shuli had gone to save her stepson cause Elizabeth to change her initial perception of her and led to her ending the trial before it could devolve and ruin Shuli's reputation even further.
    • After the trial caused by Cardinal Richlieu, who told Jeremy that Theobald is making unwanted advances to Shuli when that didn't happen, in a scheme to discredit the Neuschwanstein Marquiss family, the Neuschwanstein children felt suspicion regarding Theobald's intentions and instead grew a close rapport with Nora, in comparison to the original timeline where the stepchildren are implied to still be in good terms with the first prince.
  • The Ghost: The former Empress, Ludovica. She was the mother of the Crown Prince, but for some reason all mentions of her being anything but a few lines about her in history books about her being beautiful and kind ruler is missing. Any trace of her is erased, such as the roses that were bred in her honor by Count Reicher, Johanes' brother-in-law from his first marriage. Anytime Theobald tries to ask questions about her, people change the subject and all personnel in the palace who knew Ludovica, including his nanny, are sent away or are relocated to other parts of the empire. During Jeremy's trial when the reason for why Johanes chose Shuli to marry is brought up, Count Reicher is immediately silenced by the current Empress when he tries to bring up the fact that Shuli bares a resemblance to the late Empress Ludovica and the trial is immediately withdrawn.
  • Good All Along: In the webcomic, after Shuli's deeds to protect her stepchildren are made known to the public from the original timeline, many people stop vilifying her and instead admire her, going as far as to call her a saint. Her reputation of being a scheming widow is cleared and her stepchildren become more grateful for having her as their stepmother, but it's too late.
  • Good Parents: There are not too many of them in this webtoon but there are shining examples:
    • After traveling back in time, Shuli truly gets to be the Good Stepmother to the Neuschwanstein children.
    • It took a good while but Heidi Von Nuremberg, Nora's mother, slowly is on her way to becoming a better mother for Nora with some encouragement from Shuli.
    • Before their deaths, Johanes and his first wife, Alicia, were truly good parents who adored their children. His actions for taking in a young Shuli to be his children's guardians may be up to debate, but he prioritized his children's wellbeing first and foremost.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Shuli has some scars on the back of her neck from one of Elias' pranks gone wrong. The Cardinal has scars on his back from lashings, which appear to be self inflicted.
  • Good Stepmother: Shuli tries to be this to the Neuschwanstein children out of obligation to Johanes, who took her in. She failed in the first timeline, but otherwise, succeeded in the present.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: In the original timeline, the Vatican church initially schemed in the background to plan the downfall of the Neuschwanstein so the house would be ripe to be taken and influenced so as to take over the empire.
  • Her Heart Will Go On: Gender-inverted with Jeremy and Shuli in the webcomic and original timeline. After Shuli's death, Jeremy breaks his engagement with Ohara and is rumored to have declared Shuli the only woman he had ever loved, even going as far as to call her his lover.
  • History Repeats: In the past, the Emperor, Albrecht Von Nurenberg, and Johanes were close friends who romantically vied for a Spirited Young Lady with long lilac hair. Shuli, said lady's Identical Stranger, is romantically vied by their respective sons in the present. Only, unlike their fathers, the two of them couldn't pursue Shuli due to complications on their part Explanation 
  • Identical Stranger: Shuli is physically similar to Former Empress Ludovica. Shuli's marriage to Johannes caused many who knew of Ludovica being his First Love, to believe that he was fooled and seduced by Shuli due to how physically similar she was to the former empress.
  • Like Parent, Like Spouse: Crown Prince Theobald is romantically drawn to Shuli because she resembles his deceased mother. Given that everyone in the palace is forbidden from speaking about the late empress, even in books, it is safe to say that Theobald is projecting his ideals of his mother onto Shuli. See Loving a Shadow below.
  • Loving a Shadow: Shuli treats Theobold's "feelings" towards her, as not real romantic attraction but an affection born from his longing for his deceased biological mother.
  • Mama Bear: Shuli will do anything for her stepchildren to the point that she's willing to get her marriage annulled and got kicked out of the Neuschwanstein family if that could save her eldest son.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Happens a few times over the course of the series, mostly told in flashbacks.
    • Elias has one when he realizes that his actions caused Jeremy to get measles. Since the story is set in a time period where modern medicine does not exist, Elias fears that his brother will die of illness just like his mother and father, the latter of whom was buried a short time ago.
    • Elias has another one when recalling the first time he met Shuli. He threw a rock at her face in an attempt to scare her while she was climbing up the steps to the front of the mansion, but the hit stunned her and caused her to fall down the steps, resulting in scars on the back of her neck.
    • Jeremy in the original timeline has one of these moments when he learns of everything that Shuli put herself through to protect him and his siblings, despite their treatment of her.
    • Nora's parents, mostly his father, have this in the original timeline as well. Nora's mother was nothing more than a conversation partner to the Empress, her sister-in-law, and Nora's father pushed him to be close with his cousin Crown Prince Theobald. Nora's parents continually coddled his cousin the Crown Prince and would reprimand Nora for the slightest of reasons. When Nora grows older, it is clear that he has completely cut them out of his life.
    • Ohara has this on her wedding day in the original timeline. Jeremy orders the ceremony to be put on hold until Shuli is found and can attend, having found out that his wife-to-be- ordered her not to come and lied about it being his wish. Once the news is out about Shuli's death, Ohara is horrified and guilt ridden that her words caused Shuli to get into the situation that led to her death.
    • Jeremy has this during his trial when he realizes his father's actual reason for marrying Shuli was to make sure that he and his siblings had a guardian that would not take advantage of him after his death.
    • Elias and the twins have this when they find out that Shuli left before Jeremy's wedding in the old timeline. The day before, after Ohara left, Shuli asked them about if it would be better if she skipped the wedding, with the children acting like they usually do around her and goad her into not going, thinking that she would be staying at home. They are shocked to hear that Shuli had left at sunrise on the day of the wedding.
  • Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: Another factor to the tragedy for Shuli. Her actions in the first timeline was heavily misunderstood due to how misguided they were despite the well-intentions and caused her to be painted as a Gold Digger, adulterer, and many other malicious names despite how most of her actions are done to protect the children of the house. Not helping is that the sudden marriage and the fact that she was initially from a very poor Viscount family, added onto it, only made her reputation worse. This also led to the strain in her relationship with her stepchildren at first. This results in a My God, What Have I Done? moment when they realize that all of Shuli's actions were to protect her stepchildren as per Johanes' orders to her.
  • Parents as People: If your parent in this webcomic is not an Abusive Parent, then there's a good chance that they are this. A theme going on with the younger generation is that the parents' own personal hang-ups will affect how they raised their children and how the children grew up in life.
    • In the first timeline, as much as Shuli tried to be the Good Stepmother to the Neuschwanstein kids, her inexperience and young age cause her to take far drastic measures that alienated the children from her for a good while.
    • The Emperor had a hands-off approach with his son, the prince, out of grief and due to the fact that his wife, Ludovica died from childbirth.
    • While a decent person in general, Duke Albrecht Von Nuremberg's own personal feelings regarding Ludovica, his first love, and her last wish of asking him to take care of her son after her passing, clouded his judgement and cause him to favor Theobald more than his own son. Nora understandably grew up resenting his parent for choosing another person's child over his own and feels that his father will never see him as anything but a trouble-making child.
  • Poor Communication Kills: A factor to the tragedy that led to Shuli and the Neuschwanstein children's relationship being heavily strained. Shuli's tendency to do things alone and being distrustful to others, and refusing to explain most of her reasons for what she did ended up giving others a very horrible impression of her.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Jeremy in the original timeline hits this on his wedding day. He was already angry with his Ohara lying to his stepmother about how she should not come to the wedding because that was his wish, but he all hell breaks loose when he hears about Shuli's death and is given the only piece of evidence they found of her, a broach he had given her. He snaps and attempts to kill the self-professed killer on the steps of the church. Later on, rumors start to pop up that Shuli's death and discovering the actions she took to keep him and his family safe drove him mad with grief and fueled is need to fight on the front lines of a holy war orchestrated by the church.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • The first original timeline before Shuli time travelled showcase what happens when a literal teen child with little experience of how to interact in the noble's society was put in charge of a whole family, a situation that Johanes Von Neuschwanstein wished to prevent to happen with Jeremy by taking Shuli into his house, registering her as his lawful second wife, in hopes of protecting the children. Shuli was distrustful of many of Johanes's relatives out of fear that they'll exploit the children and regardless of how well meaning she was, many of her actions (Well-meaning, but misguided) end up giving her such a horrible reputation to society and even her stepchildren didn't fully warm up to her. The latitude of how her actions were perceived ended up becoming a fuel by others, specifically, the vatican church, to plan her demise at the day of Jeremy's wedding. In the webcomic, once Shuli's actions became known to the public she is put on a pedestal by the younger generation for her actions.
    • In the original timeline, Ohara's family name becomes tarnished when rumors start about how she demanded that Shuli not attend Jeremy's wedding, but they spiral even more when it gets out that Ohara lied and said that it was Jeremy's wish as well. Her family is forced to flee to the countryside.
    • In the trial for Jeremy's innocence in the present timeline, Jeremy's honesty backfired on him as ultimately, the noble's could care less about chivalry. And regardless of his intention, he still attacked a member of the royal family.
    • Shuli does remember certain incidents, however, she comments that she does not remember the order they are in as all of her memories are jumbled up from her trip back into the past coupled with the stress that she felt during her death.
  • Ship Tease: Shuli has quite a lot of this with Nora Von Nuremberg. At the end of the Webnovel, They Do.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Shuli or Shuri? Nora or Norra? Ohara or Ohera? It differs between fan translations and the official translation.
  • Spotting the Thread: Elias and the twins in the old timeline. When they ask a maid about where Shuli was because they wanted to surprise her, they get told that she had already left for the villa and would not be attending the wedding since it was Jeremy's wish. They immeidately know that something is off because it is not Jeremy's personality to have someone deliver messages for him, so they conclude that Ohara was lying to Shuli. This is confirmed by Jeremy when he goes to see Ohara before the wedding, where she all but insults Shuli to Jeremy and says that she would not have her wedding spoiled by someone with such as tarnished reputation.
  • Taught by Experience: Thanks to Time Travel and learning of the mistakes that costs her of the relationship with her stepchildren, Shuli wise up and took a different approach that would hopefully bring better results to her own reputation (And in extension, the Neuschwanstein family's reputation) and a better relationship with her stepchildren.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Shuli's death in the original timeline was bloody and brutal in the Webnovel. It took months to find her remains and the only thing left most in tact to identify her was her mostly severed head, but even that was caved in from blunt force.
  • Time Travel: Shuli, the protagonist and titular Stepmother, traveled back to 7 years. At the day of her Husband's funeral.
  • Tragic Keepsake: In the webcomic version of the original timeline, Jeremy has this in the form of a brooch he gave to Shuli, the only birthday gift he ever gave her. It was one of the few things found at the scene of her murder, cracked and covered in her blood.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Jeremy in the original timeline. It was his words to Ohara about allowing Shuli to stay part of the family even after he becomes the Neuschwanstein family's head causes Ohara to lie to Shuli about Jeremy not wanting her at the wedding. This leads to Shuli leaving for the villa earlier than planned and thus to her doom.
  • Values Dissonance: In-Universe example and discussed at some points. Most nobles don't see anything wrong with Johannes marrying a much younger Shuli as it's common practice for nobles to remarry to secure a new heir at the medieval era, her age it's also not commented upon as being anything scandalous, as sometimes in those times women got married or engaged not too long after they started menstruating. The most complaints that the nobles have is that Shuli is too young and inexperienced, and some are quite suspicious on how she is an Identical Stranger to the former empress, and come to the conclusion that she seduced Johanes with her appearance. To the children, such as Jeremy and Nora, who grew up believing chivalrous ideals, once they learn how much she went hell and back for the kids, were upset and horrified at how much Shuli sacrificed and wasted away her youth to be the head of the family after Johanes's passing, duty bound to his last wish of safeguarding the children.
  • Wife Husbandry: Played with concerning Johanes and Shuli. Johanes does not trust Jeremy to be the new head of house, so he takes in Shuli and instead grooms her to take his place as head of the house, having her promise to look after his family until Jeremy comes of age and can take over as head. Whether he intended for Jeremy to fall in love with Shuli after his death or made Shuli promise to look after his family until Jeremy found a suitable partner is unknown.
  • Young and in Charge: To protect his children, Johanes brought Shuli into the family to be registered as his lawful wife and taught her everything in order to prepare her for taking charge and protect the children once he pass away from illness. Unfortunately, in the first timeline, this trope is heavily Deconstructed with a dose of Reality Ensues as Shuli's young age and inexperience in general led to her taking actions that cost her reputation in the noble's society and indirectly affect the reputation of the Neuschwanstein family.

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