Sunday, January 19, 2014

Wicked Lovely: Desert Tales: Sanctuary (OEL manga, vol. 1) story by Melissa Marr, art by Xian Nu Studio (Irene Diaz & Laura Moreno)

Wicked Lovely: Desert Tales: Sanctuary is a fantasy OEL manga based on Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely world and characters. It was published by Tokyopop.


I don't know why I bought this. I know it was a used copy, and I think it was really cheap. That's still not a good explanation, because OEL manga adaptations of books don't generally have a good track record with me. Plus, I haven't even read any of Melissa Marr's books.

I thought this was an adaptation of Marr's Wicked Lovely, but then I spotted the “Desert Tales: Sanctuary” portion of the title and wasn't so sure. It turns out that it's actually a spin-off that uses characters from the Wicked Lovely world. The manga volumes were later turned into a novel, Desert Tales – not the usual way these things are done.

I don't know that I would have liked this volume any better if I had read the Wicked Lovely books, but, just in case, I'll start by saying that my review should probably be taken with a grain of salt. I had no idea who Rika or Keenan or Donia were, although apparently readers of the Wicked Lovely series would know. Character relationships and timelines were sometimes hard for me to follow. How long ago was Rika the Winter Queen (or whatever)? How long has it been since she was mortal? Who's Donia?

The story, as I understood it, was this: At one time, Rika loved Keenan, a faerie king. He convinced her to go grab some kind of scepter, something went wrong, and she carried the Winter Queen's chill (ice in her veins?) for...a while. I wasn't clear on how long. When the volume begins, it's been some time since Rika became free of Keenan and the ice. Now she lives in the desert and moons over a young artist named Jayce, who can't see her because she's an invisible faerie. The desert faeries threaten Jayce, because they hate Rika and she's shown an interest in him, so she reveals herself to Jayce in an effort to protect him.

I could not figure these characters out. Rika hated Keenan and swore she didn't need his help or protection. However, her life in the desert didn't seem all that much better. The desert faeries hated her and threatened her and Jayce, one of the two people she actually seemed to like. Then there was Sionnach. On the one hand, Rika seemed to view him as a friend and guardian. On the other hand, when he was away from her, it sounded like he might be the one arranging for the desert faeries to torment her. Was he a prankster with a wicked sense of humor, or was he a secret villain? And, if he was a secret villain, did that mean that, after having been tricked by Keenan years ago, Rika let herself be tricked by yet another faerie? Did her time with Keenan teach her nothing besides how to moon over and cry about boys?

Jayce was boring. Pretty-boy cardboard, basically. It didn't matter how much weird stuff happened around Rika, he barely questioned any of it. He just kept blindly following after her and doing whatever she asked. When, near the end of the volume, she told him she wasn't human, his only response was to kiss her some more.

The artwork was uneven. Some panels looked decent, some didn't, and characters weren't always consistently drawn. It definitely wasn't the worse-looking OEL manga I've ever seen, but it didn't look good enough for me to consider keeping the volume just for the artwork.

All in all, I doubt I'm going to continue with this series. If I ever read Marr's Wicked Lovely books and enjoy them enough to continue on, I think I'd prefer to read the novel version of Desert Tales instead.

  • Nightschool: The Weirn Books (OEL manga) by Svetlana Chmakova - There's a little too much crammed into this series, but I'd still say it's an example of a fantasy OEL manga series done well. I've written about all four volumes.
  • Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception (book) by Maggie Stiefvater - Those who'd like another YA mix of faeries, angst, and romance may want to give this a try. I've written about it.
  • The Iron King (book) by Julie Kagawa - More YA, faeries, and, I'm guessing, romance. I haven't read it.
  • Ash (book) by Malinda Lo - A YA book starring a heroine torn between a fairy and a human, the King's Huntress. This is a f/f retelling of Cinderella. Those who'd like more angst, romance, and fairies might want to give it a try. I've written about it.

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