Review: 5/5 – A Gripping Chronicle of a Young Girl’s Rise to Power
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Al Sparrow.
If you were a fan of the movie Labyrinth, and always felt there might have been a bit more to the relationship between Sarah and Jareth, the Goblin King, here’s a book that taps right into that vein and feels like it came straight out of the Henson factory’s stable of compelling monsters, beasts, and characters. The Ancient Magus’ Bride is the tale of a young girl sold into slavery to a powerful magic user, provides old-school fantasy not seen in quite a while on the bookshelf, and should find a welcome home on the bookshelf of any fan of the genre.
Lest you think this book is something it isn’t when you read the phrase “…a young girl sold into slavery…” let’s quash such notions right now. Chise Hatori is a poor, unloved girl who found herself with no options in life and no future, so she agrees to sell herself in a special sort of auction. Purchased for an extremely large amount of money by Elias, a skull-faced magic user, she is unsure what to expect, particularly when he speaks of marriage and honeymoons. Still, her world changes overnight into a realm of fairies, dragons, and even a meeting with the King of the Cats as she discovers there may be more to her life than even she thought possible.
As mentioned, this book is a fantasy yarn with an eye toward how fantasy used to be done. There’s no Red Weddings to be found here. Magic is dying in the face of science, and the few people who possess the ability to wield it are precious commodities. Chise is one such person, but she needs a mentor, and the eccentric Elias feels he’s up to the task. Mysterious, cryptic in his answers to Chise’s questions, and fairly trusting in the latent abilities of his new pupil, it’s not too difficult to imagine David Bowie providing his voice…for all the right reasons.
A fantasy book demands incredible artwork, and on this front creator Kore Yamazaki delivers. Chise herself is drawn as a rather plain, ordinary girl, on one front to show her mundane existence before we meet her at the beginning of this book, and on another to highlight the beauty of the world and creatures around her as we proceed through the pages. Dragons are majestic, fairies (referred to as Ariels in this book) are waifish, cute, and not without their mean streaks, and magic itself abounds on nearly every page.
The Ancient Magus’ Bride recalls many of the great fantasy books I read growing up. It has the potential to be a manga version of great epics like the Belgariad by David Eddings or Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonrider series, but even if it didn’t hit such lofty marks, it would still stand on its own as a great read for anyone who ever felt that magic, although perhaps in hiding, isn’t truly dead.
Reviewed by: Al Sparrow
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