xxxHOLiC

CLAMP, Author . Del Rey $10.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-345-47058-4

Although it contains many familiar manga elements, this tale's goth sensibilities, stunning art and nonstop philosophizing sets it apart. Watanuki Kimiharo appears to be an ordinary guy, but he's able to see spirits, who are following him around and causing trouble. One day Watanuki finds himself unwillingly drawn to the shop of Yuko, a beautiful witch. She helps him, but there's a price: he must become her servant. As things progress, Yuko extracts bargains from other damned souls, such as a woman whose constant lying is symbolized by a cloud of black smoke around her, and Hana Hana, an Internet addict whose attempts to ditch the monkey on her back may resonate with many readers. Throughout, Yuko expounds endlessly on fate, predetermination and self-control. Created by Clamp, the all-female artists' collective behind the hit Chobits , this work avoids the more obvious sexual aspects of Watanuki's situation, instead plunging readers into an Edgar Allen Poe-esque world of melting candles, castles beyond time and doomed protagonists. Although the story can be garbled, the art is exquisite, possessing a stunning Pre-Raphaelite sensibility. This book should greatly appeal to teens, especially those with a goth bent. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 06/07/2004
Release date: 04/01/2004
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