Bizenghast: Volume One

M. Alice LeGrow, Author
M. Alice LeGrow, Author . Tokyopop $9.99 (192p) ISBN 978-1-59532-743-7
Prebound-Glued - 978-1-4176-8824-1
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Gothic horror, New England ghost stories and Loli fashion, along with traditional Japanese manga, are all reflected in this English-language manga. LeGrow's intricate backgrounds, fabulous costumes, architectural fantasias and painterly set pieces introducing each chapter make this book a delectable visual treat. The writing, unfortunately, doesn't rise to the same level. Unconvincingly written newspaper dispatches provide backstory and plot, while dialogue gets across the bare minimum. Dinah, the well-dressed heroine, is troubled by visions of ghosts in the empty buildings of the boarding school where she's been sent to live with an aunt, following the deaths of her parents. Decaying buildings and abandoned graveyards, rendered in a German expressionistic style, provide an impressive background to the low-key story. Dinah and her suitably slender and big-eyed companion, Vincent, meet a variety of creatures who give them a series of clunky riddles to solve. Along their way, they meet several tragically inclined ghosts. The book offers an unsatisfying ending, relying too heavily on its closing "to –be continued." The flimsy narrative will most likely be forgiven by many who will simply see it as an excuse to enjoy some very impressive art. (Aug.)

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