The Boiling Isles is an archipelago in the Demon Realm. Situated in the Boiling Sea, it is made from the decaying remains of a fallen Titan and populated by magical creatures, predominantly witches and demons. The Isles serve as the main setting of the series, and the titular Owl House is situated on one of its bluffs.
As aforementioned, the Isles are an archipelago formed along the skeleton of a of a fallen Titan. This makes the Isles unique in the Demon Realm, as no alike landmasses are known to exist. One source, however, implies that this may not have always been the case.
The natural features of the Isles are formed by the Titan's exposed bones. Across the Isle, the Titan's protruding ribcage is visible in the sky, forming a series of curved peaks. Another such landmass is the Knee, literally the Titan's raised kneecap, which is raised to an altitude that facilitates freezing temperatures. This area is also pregnant with primordial magic and significant to wild witches.
The Isles appear to be fairly populous, having at least one major city and several educational institutions. The city of Bonesborough, located near the secluded Owl House, boasts Hexside School of Magic and Demonics.
The natural scenery of the Isles is equally fantastical and macabre; it boasts plagues rather than a typical weather pattern and veritable swaths of magnificent, if incredibly dangerous, fauna and megafauna. The residents of the Owl House, Eda especially, hold the natural beauty of the Isles in high regard.
Society and Culture
The inhabitants of the Boiling Isles are remarkably prejudiced against humans. Despite this, the society which has flourished on the Isles mirrors human civilization considerably. The people of the Isles boast many common societal conventions, such as the employment of language, writing, and commerce; an established economical unit, the snail; and a ruling authoritative body, presided over by a head of state.
Certainly, the most significant distinction between the culture of the Isles and that of Earth is the permeation and acceptance of magic. The ability to wield magic is considered a tremendous gift from the Titan itself, and to misuse it is culturally taboo. By the laws of the land, magic is misused when different 'types' of it are blended. To avoid this, it is customary for witches to assign themselves to a coven once they come of age. This ordinance is a relatively new convention, being extant a mere fifty years prior to the arrival of Luz. Prior to this era was the 'Savage Ages', a time in which witches and demons were free to practice wild magic and blended practices to their pleasure. In most cases, witches must seal away aspects of their magic which are unrelated to their chosen coven; for example, Luz witnesses a witch joining the Illusion Coven and subsequently having his other magic forcefully curtailed. Unrestrained magic is still practiced by the Emperor and his Coven legally, and illegally by 'wild witches' who refuse to coven membership. School-age witches choose 'tracts' to best prepare themselves for the covens they'll eventually join.
Though being habitat to a literal biome of magical life-forms, the dominant two species on the Isles appear to be witches and demons. However there appears to also be little friction between these different species or indeed any of the others on the Isles. Despite the majority of these species being humanoid, there appears to be little in the way of respective characteristics to distinguish them from one another. This is particularly true regarding the children of Hexside. Potentially, this may indicate that many of the Isles' denizens are of mixed lineage. The precise demographics of the Isles have yet to be specified, however.
Before the advent of witches and demons, a magical Titan which roamed the Boiling Sea perished and fell where it stood. The ancient magic at the Titan's disposal was so immense that the life which evolved from the TItan's remains was imbued with magic as well. Eons later, witches and demons alike recognize and revere the Titan as the progenitor of their magic. Even Luz, foreign to the Isles, recognizes magic as a "gift" from them.
At some point in the history of the Isles, Hexside School of Magic and Demonics launched a successful conquest of their rival school and built its current campus atop this school's ruin. As a student of Hexside himself at the time, Hieronymus Bump was a significant combatant in this crusade.
Eventually, the Isles descended into a lawless time known as the Savage Ages, in which the people of the Isles blended different forms magic with abandon and without restriction. This was apparently a time of unrest, as a significant figure to rise during this time was Belos, who was a proponent of 'unity' who persisted that mixing magical arts was wrong, and that only he had that right as a supposed emissary of the fallen Titan.
The Savage Ages were at least a controversial time in the Isles' history. Eda, a wild witch, insist that the criminalization of unbound magic is tyrannical and stifling to their true potential as witches. Others are loyal to Belos despite his accepted aura of menace specifically because they fear returning to the old ways. According to at least one written source, the Savage Age wrought great chaos, which eventually played into Belos' hands by strengthening the impact of his teachings. Belos eventually rose to prominence as the ruler of the Boiling Isles and implemented a new charter of laws regarding the 'proper' way to practice magic.
The present-day Boiling Isles are promoted as peaceful and prosperous, though this sentiment is not universal. Order is kept through the Emperor's personal coven, and dissenters are contained in a prison meant to conform them to societal ideals. Human innovations, namely technology, are virtually unknown to the Isles, and their functions are replaced by magical artifacts. The Emperor appears to be an exception, however, having several technological accouterments at his disposal. Despite being in a different dimension, Luz can still send and receive text messages from home while in the Boiling Isles. Also, whoever publishes The Good Witch Azura series of books is able to market it on Earth and the Isles.
Places of interest
- The Owl House: A small cottage located on the cliffs outside the Bonesborough. It is the home of Eda, King, and currently Luz.
- Bonesborough: The largest city on the Isles.
- Hexside School: A school of witchcraft located near Bonesborough.
- Glandus High: A school of witchcraft found at the center of the isles.
- Saint Epiderm: Another magical school, possibly parochial or a suitable equivalent. Its banner implies a focus on the 'Healing' branch of magic.
- Blight Manor: A mansion where Amity and the Blight family live.
- The Conformatorium: A heavily-guarded prison. It was built to hold dissident witches, demons, and oddballs who are too weird (even for the Boiling Isles).
- The Knee: Literally located on the giant skeleton's right knee, this is a snowy, cold region where the natural magical energy of the Boiling Isles is very strong.
- Witch Arena: Witch Arena is a gathering place located on the most mysterious part of the Boiling Isles: the Knee. Set within the ruins of a castle, groups will meet here for rituals and social functions.
- Dead Man's Curve: An incredibly curvaceous road for traveling.
- Lake Lacuna: A large lake with sandy shores, surrounded by forest and the giant skeleton's ribs. Children learn how to swim at this location.
- Emperor's Castle: Built in an area with high volcanic activity around the still-beating heart of the skeleton, it is Emperor Belos' base of operations.
- The design of the Boiling Isles was inspired by various European painters including Remedios Varo, John Bauer and definitely Hieronymus Bosch, who was best known for his surrealistic depictions of hell. Dana Terrace also took a lot of inspiration from Russian architecture as well as medieval church art.
- The design of the woods was originally going to be much more dominated by black colors, but since it was "melting" with Luz's hair too much, the creators went with "bloody red" for the trees.
- The concept of a landmass being formed from the carcass of an ancient being is a recurring story element found in several real-world mythologies, such as Mesopotamian, Chinese, Norse, and Hindu, to name a few.
- The Boiling Isles can be seen inside the journal in Gravity Falls: Lost Legends, albeit partially obscured.
- The Boiling Isles are similar to Knowhere from Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy as they are both settlements built with the carcasses of giant powerful beings. The Boiling Isles built on the corpse of a fallen Titan and Knowhere built within the head of a dead Celestial.
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