Black Rose Alice 1 by Setona Mizushiro

Back before Meyer’s Twilight Books became popular, stories such as this one would have really stood out for originality and, yes, horror. Now that the whole vampire thing has become so passe, I can understand how many might skip over this very mature title. And that’s a shame; creator Setona Mizushiro blends very distinct gothic storytelling with beautiful illustrations to create a very compelling, if disturbing, series. There’s very little ‘vampire’ in here since it is the Asian ‘plant creature’ and not the Western demonic interpretation.

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Story: Dmitri is a singer in turn of the century Vienna. As a child, his gypsy family sold him into the family of a wealthy nobleman for his talent in singeing. Over time, he befriends the count’s son and young fiance Agneszka – only to find himself hopelessly in a forbidden and very one sided love. When a carriage accident should have ended his life but doesn’t – he soon learns his body was taken as a vessel for the seed of a vampire. Now he cannot die and he still cannot love Agneszka. Ready to end his unnatural new life, Agneszka dies instead. Resurrected as a lifeless doll, Dmitri will not give up through the years of finding a way to bring his precious Agneszka back to him. In 2008, he finds the perfect woman to inhabit Agneszka…

I can remember reading a post in a forum about this book, and they pretty much said, “Wow, this series is so messed up!” and I couldn’t agree more but in the best way possible. Although there is a very strong influence from Wuthering Heights in the story, it isn’t set in an historical milieu. The volume ends with the story moving firmly from 1908 to 2008 – 100 years since the events of Agneszka’s death.

The horror is light but present – allusions without the need to beat the reader over the head with the gore. That subtlety is a lot of the beauty in the series – clues are given in the illustrations and story but never gratuitously. Yet, it’s not cryptic, either. At heart, we have a very basic story that flows seamlessly even into the present.

Yes, this is a very ‘messed up’ manga. The characters are fairly tragic in the same way as the Wuthering Heights Cathy and Heathcliff. I am very interested to see where this story will go as a result.

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This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Historical, manga, urban fantasy, YA. Bookmark the permalink.

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