Dorohedoro Vol. 1, by Q. Hayahida

*This Review is Spoiler Free*

*Sorry for the late post and replies.  Just a bit swamped with work, but will reply soon!*

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Find it on Goodreads

Buy it at Chapters/Indigo

Buy it at Barnes & Noble

Buy it at Book Depository

Buy it at Amazon

Three Words: THE FIRST PAGE 

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umm…okay. So I realize that maybe shouldn’t be my first reaction to such a scene, but I’m fine with just blaming my horror-movie-centered-upbringing. Moving on, I actually came across this one from a Google Image search while looking up a completely unrelated series (Berserk). I saw that one picture, and of course went looking for it. Luckily I was able to pick-up the first volume at my local library.  

Synopsis: 

A blood-splattered battle between diabolical sorcerers and the monsters they created.

In a city so dismal it’s known only as “the Hole”, a clan of Sorcerers have been plucking people off the streets to use as guinea pigs for atrocious “experiments” in the black arts. 

Rating: I’m actually not sure. 7/10? 9/10? ….Guess I go with 8/10 unicorn horns!

In short, my trouble rating this comes from that fact that this is that it’s a pretty weird story, with an equally strange cast of characters (especially the antagonists). Eventually my interest in the stories many mysteries won out, but it feels like this story and it’s uniqueness are the definition of hit-or-miss. It was sometimes difficult for me to figure out if certain oddities where something I actually liked, or just downright creeped me out. And while I ended up really liking it, I could easily see why others wouldn’t.

The world of “the Hole” is still largely one big mystery by the end of the first volume. It seems like the sorcerers and the people in “the Hole” live in separate dimensions, with the former preying on the latter, but that’s just a guess. Even so, I really liked how my many questions about this unique world were answered slowly, in bits and pieces over time.

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pg. 3, Vol. 1

While I can’t say I liked it all, overall the strangeness of this world/story was a plus. There were quite a few scenes that had me doing double takes thinking, “did a man’s head really just pop out of lizard-head dude’s stomach to talk to someone?”, and “did this dude really just turn his enemies into mushrooms then talk about eating them?” I thought that last one was a joke, but nope. No it was not. 

As for the characters, the ones that had me so conflicted were the antagonists (the sorcerers). They are an interesting bunch, but the five introduced in this volume are on such a different plane of weird I don’t know what to think about them.

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pg. 92, Vol. 1

Though the main characters Nikaido (the girl executing that headlock-see 1st pic) and Caiman (lizard head dude) were a different story. I was, for obvious reasons, surprised to learn that these two are the main characters. But with their unexpected mildly inappropriate humour, easy banter, and the overall mystery surrounding them it didn’t take me long to like them. Nikaido is one talented and strong woman, and I can’t help but wonder what her story is, and what made her join Caiman on his quest. And as for Caiman, it was his duality and humour (he has the feel of an anti-hero) that had me interested. I couldn’t help but be drawn into his ruthless, and often bloody, quest to find the sorcerer who cast a spell on him (the spell that changed his head into a reptile, and gave him the unique power to withstand magic).

It’s all these mysteries, like the strangeness of “the Hole”, the magic system, where the sorcerers come from and why they have no qualms about committing horrible experiments on people (really, they seem to lack some serious morals in general) that drive me to want to learn more. And, of course, there’s the bit about the unknown man living inside of Caiman….And..well, okay, all the gory action is part of it. 

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Needless to say, this manga definitely isn’t for everyone. Though the scenes do serve to progress the plot, or give readers a better idea of the dark type of environment these guys are in, there is quite a bit of violence, and it doesn’t dial back on the explicit images to go with it. Which reminds me…I absolutely LOVE the artwork! It’s quite detailed, especially the facial expressions and eyes!

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somewhere in chapter 1, Vol. 1…I think…

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5 Series I’ll Never Review

I’d been thinking about doing some new things on the blog for a while now, but haven’t gotten around to doing much except taking breaks lol. Now that I’m back (again) I’d like to restart doing some original posts as well as try my hand at few lists (a big thanks to fellow bloggers for the suggestions in the past!). 

While I was thinking up things I wanted to review, I kept coming across things I absolutely refused to write a review on. So for these lists I’ll be picking five books, manga, and/or comics that I’ll never write a review on (with varying reasons). Then attempt to say a few words about said book/series. Here goes:

 

5 Books/Manga Series I’ll Never Review…because my words will forever be unable to do them justice:

 

These are 5 (of many) series where a review attempt may begin normally, but would quickly descend into raving madness, ending with incoherent fangirling.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Just the first 2)

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A Short Synopsis:

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Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

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A Short Overview:

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A Seven Realms Series by Cinda Williams Chima

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A Short Summary:

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Vagabond by Takehiko Inoue 
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A Few Words on the Series:

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The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks

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….I Think You Get the Idea:

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Now excuse me,

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while I go drown in an ocean of FEELS for a few days…

Barakamon by Satsuki Yoshino

*This Review is Spoiler Free*

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This post is going to be a bit different from my usual style and content, as I’ve finally- for those that have been suggesting it for quite some *cough* decided to also write a little on anime. Now this doesn’t mean I’m turning this into an anime site, I’ll still be doing the regular bi-weekly book review posts (excusing times where things get busy and there isn’t any *ahem*). This just means I’ll occasionally be doing an extra post here and there on anime, or something like this one- where it’s mainly a manga review, but I add in some of my thoughts on the anime adaption if I’ve watched it. 

Last year I decided to go outside of my comfort zone with anime and tried out a few shows in the Slice of Life genre (similar to but not quite contemporary for those of you who don’t know). Some went more or less like I was expecting- I was bored out of my mind- but a few others were gems and made me change my mind about Slice of Life in general. Barakamon, not to be confused with Bakuman (am I the only one that did this?), was one of them.

Synopsis:

Barakamon follows the life of a 23-year-old professional calligrapher, Seishuu Handa, after he moves out to the booneys on a small island. The calligraphy bit got me interested, but so did his reason for moving in the first place: as a much needed getaway following a… let’s call it “mishap” with the Exhibit Hall Director at a showing over some publicly dished out criticism.

Exhibit A:

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Naturally this all led to him having some…issues in his work and social life, so he readily agreed to being sent off to the middle of nowhere. But, of course, his hopes of getting some peace and quiet to focus on his work are quickly crushed by one trouble making first grader: Naru.

Exhibit B:

 

My Rating (for both): 9/10 Unicorn Horns!

The hilarious interactions between main characters Handa and little Naru are definitely the selling point of this series. I found myself bursting into laughter every chapter/story at their antics, the many resulting misunderstandings, and Handa’s often immature reactions to Naru’s actions and logic. The characters and humour are part of what made this series so enjoyable for me. Even the side characters that make small appearances had their place and made themselves memorable in some way. 

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In the first volume, along with a handful of villagers, we only meet Naru, a couple of her classmates, the two middle schoolers Miwa and Tama, and high school senior Hiroshi. Things don’t get too in-depth with them seeing as this is the first volume, save for maybe Hiroshi, but there is just enough to get a grasp on each character. I was taken back by how well Yoshino was able to make a cast of characters with such varying ages work. And equally surprised I didn’t find the kids really annoying. Of course the anime goes further than what I’ve read, but I’m seriously looking forward to going through all the craziness again in later volumes (especially the bits when Tama’s secret hobby and future dream come to light).

Then there’s the out-of-nowhere-gut-punching (a.k.a metaphoric life messages that really hit home). They’re nothing incredibly mind blowing, just some words about everyday life and hurtles most (meaning me) have forgotten had such simple answers somewhere along the way. Naru and Hiroshi did this very well through their interactions with each other, often giving insightful advice and encouragement just by being themselves. Coupled with the humour this made it become a solid and unforgettable series for me, which was unexpected considering my strong preference for an overarching plot. 

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Since this story takes place on a remote island, the inhabitants actually speak a different dialect (Kansai dialect). In the manga the translator used an old country sounding accent for all the characters living on the Island to represent this, save city raised Handa of course. While the anime does the same, reading it in the manga was a slightly different experience. This wasn’t a negative thing, just took some getting use to. 

The taste of small town life was another surprising enjoyment, and actually made me want to give it a try sometime. That and of course my introduction to the world of professional calligraphy. Naturally I won’t be taking this as a how-to-guide, but it did get me thinking, and also broaden my world by making me stop and really take it in as an art form. Especially a particular scene in the anime…which I can’t actually show cause it would definitely count as a spoiler. 

(Poor) Non-spoiler substitute: 

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Lastly, I never say much about it in any of my reviews unless I found it mind-blowing, but will say I like the art style. It’s good as far as I’m concerned and easy to follow, but noticeably changes (in a good way) from the first chapter to the last. 

I watched the anime a few months ago, and have only just read the first volume so can’t compare them much without spoilers. But so far the adaptation did a very good job. I’d recommend checking out either one since the anime seems to have done a fairly good job at capturing the essence of the manga, and the characters in it. Both were hilarious, charming, and overall very enjoyable.

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Find it On:

MAL;  Goodreads

Stream/Buy the Anime On:

Crunchyroll;  Funimation

Buy the Manga At:

Indigo/Chapters;  Amazon;  Barnes & Noble;  Right Stuff Anime

 

The Time and Place Book Tag

I’d like to thank meltingpotsandothercalamities for this tag. Picking just one was hard, as usual, lol, but I had fun doing this. Check out her blog for book, webtoon, and anime reviews, as well as some original lists & recommendations!

This tag was created by Jen Campbell.

Rule:

Pick ten books from your shelves that you associate with a specific time and place in your life. Tell us the story behind your choices and what the books are about.

I think I’ll try to list  them in chronological order by whatever age I was at when I read them. Here goes:

 

Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry & Wesley Dennis (Art)

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First “big girl/boy” book I remember reading. There were about animals, specifically horses, which I loved, and I remember being quite proud of myself for getting through the series without help.

Synopsis: A somewhat historical story in setting that surrounds the life of two young children, a wild pony, and her foul on Chincoteague Island.

Guardians of Ga'hoole series by Kathreen Lasky

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First series I remember stalking the the release dates for. This was sometime in upper elementary school, when the school library was my go to place for books. Looking back, I now feel sorry for that librarian. This was also the first long running fiction series I ever really got into. It turned out to be a story with much darker elements than expected, which, of course, is part of what made me love it so much.

My excitement for the 2010 movie adaptation was probably excessive.

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Synopsis: Surrounds the life of a barn owl after being kidnapped from his nest by a dark organization who call themselves “The Pure Ones” (can you see where this is going?). Despite the captivity, main character Soren manages to hold to the hope in the stories his parents told of heroes, and works to resist their brainwashing and escape with a new friend. 

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

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First popular teen series I ever read. I didn’t even know popular teen fiction was really a thing until someone recommended it to me. Not the best book for obvious reasons, but it is what got me out of my years long reading slump and into the world of YA.

Synopsis: Is this even necessary at this point? Emo vampires. Ordinary human girl. Unsettling romance. Nuff said.

Fell by David Clement-Davis

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This was the first fictional philosophical read I remember picking up. It was also the first animal centered read I went to after popular fiction got me back into reading. Technically Fell is the sequel to The Sight, but I unknowingly read them out of order, and fell in love with this one more.

Naturally the synopsis would be a bit of a spoiler so I can’t give any specifics, but I can say it’s about a wolf and young girl, both outcasts, form an unlikely friendship. And that it was as they travelled together towards a shared destiny, each struggling to find the meaning of their lives and their place in it, that I excitedly whipped out my “book quotes” notebook.

Bitten by Kelly Armstrong

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First Adult Urban Fantasy I ever read. I got into them after reading her YA The Darkest Powers series. Though I’m 99% sure I wasn’t quite old enough for that genre at the time, it started my long standing enjoyment of adult urban fantasy. 

Synopsis: Starts off pretty normal: normal female werewolf and normal ignorant human bf, equalled a “normal” level of problematic relationship in Toronto. Till her old pack comes calling, mysterious murders happen, psychopaths run wild, humans grow suspicious…it all gets fascinatingly hectic. 

Eon by Allison Goodman

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This is one of a few very memorable reads from the time in high school where I finally got a spot as a library assistant. I was encouraged to read a wide range of books, and I think this was my first Diverse fantasy read.

Synopsis: Set in an Asian modelled fantasy world, 12 year old Eon, despite facing ridicule as “a cripple”, endured gruelling training for years in hopes of being chosen as an apprentice- a Dragoneye- to one of 12 dragons. And his hard work pays off. Which is all well and good, except Eon is actually a 16 year old girl, and girls are strictly forbidden from becoming a Dragoneye…like “we’ll lop off your head!” type of forbidden. 

Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel

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First graphic novel I ever read (about the same time as Eon). Aside from Archie comics and comic strips in newspapers I had never actually tried reading a graphic novel before. Even though I loved DC comic movie adaptations, I always preferred reading novels. But one day I finally decided to give one a try.

Synopsis: A middle-grade series about a kid who finds himself, accidentally, in the world of spirits facing understandable levels of terror, and a tyrannical king.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

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There might have been one before this, but this wonderful series happened around the time book to movie adaptations were blowing up in theatres. This is the first (during this time that is) I remember watching the movie for before hearing about the books. Which made me one of the very few that didn’t despise the movie…till I read the series, watched the atrocity that is the second movie, and re-watched the first. 

 

Synopsis: Another I don’t think needs saying, but just in case: young boy struggling to deal with a dysfunctional family and learning disability meets attempted assassination by mythological creature. Truths are unveiled. More assassination attempts. And a great mystery/action/fantasy filled adventure ensues. 

 

Saga by Brian K. Vaughn (Story) & Fiona Staples (Art)

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First comic series I really fell in love with (2015). While Ghostopolis is the first comic/graphic novel I ever read, Saga was the first that actually made me want to read more. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Ghostopolis, but unlike Saga, it didn’t make me think: “what is this!? I need more like it in my life!” It was this that officially jump-started my Image Comics binge session. It’s also the first graphic novel series I started collecting.

Saga Synopsis: Two opposing races in the middle of a galactic war find themselves falling for each other Romeo and Juliet style…just with a ton of crude language, attitude, fantasy, and advanced tech, and minus the mutual suicide and everything Renaissance. Once their relationship takes off, and becomes known to both sides of the war, the two lovers find themselves desperately protecting the lives of their less than orthodox family. 

D. Gray Man by Katsura Hoshino

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First shounen (YA for males) manga I fell in love with and started collecting. I actually didn’t start reading manga till a couple years ago (I wouldn’t touch it before), but my then newfound anime watching slowly changed my mind. The first couple manga series I picked up were…meh, but this one and Skip Beat! by Yoshiki Nakamura (the covers do NOT do the series justice) are the two that not only really got me interested in reading manga as a whole, but in starting my own collection.

Synopsis: Way darker than I expected. Ever had a love one you wanted to see back from the dead? Well in alternative late 19th century London it’s made possible by a man called The Millennium Earl. Which would seem like a good thing, if they didn’t come back as Akuma- a living weapon fuelled by human souls, and used by the Earl to wipe out mankind. Allen Walker, bearing the curse of an Akuma yet determined to save them, is just one of many Exorcists chosen (no consent needed) by the only substance capable of stopping Akuma and opposing the Earl. 

Thanks for reading!

I Tag:

SteviesBookshelf

Booksofonesown

Little Life Library

Red Headed Book Lover Blog

MorganFaye @mybookjourneysite 

Arata: The Legend Vol. 1, by Yuu Watase 

This Review is Spoiler Free

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Find it on Goodreads

Buy it from Chapters/Indigo

Buy it from Barns & Noble

Buy it from Book Depository

Buy it from Amazon

Completely disinterested. That’s how I felt about this series at first. I came across  this series a few years ago, took one look at the cover, and decided it wasn’t for me. I figured that was the end, but a few months ago I was forced into a game of Jack in the Box. No matter where I went- online forums, the library, Goodreads recommendations, random book comments- this series would make an appearance. To be honest it started to creep me out, and so (of course) I became interested enough to give it a try! I have never been so happy to be stalked by an inanimate object before 😃

Synopsis: On one side you have Arata. This young adult is the next in line to lead the Hime Clan- long line of females who, every 30 years, have proudly produced a new ruling princess for the kingdom. Only thing is…Arata is a boy.

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On the the other side we have the leading protagonist, Arata Hinohara, a regular high school student with great athletic skills and the grades to go with it, seems to just be starting over from a complicated past. That is, until said past seems to follow him to his new school.

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These two very different worlds clash when Arata (the Hime Clan leader), is falsely charged with the murdering the ruling Princess during a sacred succession ceremony and chased into the human devouring forest.

This is when Hinohara (the regular school student) takes centre stage. As the mysterious forest forces a body swap between these two characters, Hinohara finds himself in a magical kingdom being hunted down by the 12 Sho (12 chosen rulers welding the most powerful Kamui– gods in the form of weapons).    

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Rating: 8.5/10 Unicorn Horns!

Needless to say this was an unexpectedly non-stop, action packed read. The action and adventure the series begins with only continues to increase as Hinohara finds his place in the new fantasy world, and discovers a power of his own. The characters, setting, dialogue (the humours banter was a real bonus), and touch of romance, are all things that came together to make this one of my favourite series.

A big part of what makes this series great for me is the main character Hinohara. The way he faces and overcomes his own weaknesses, quickly becoming a stronger person who does his best to actively grow and stick to his moral convictions is something that I find was approached/written beautifully. I recommend this one to any action, adventure, and fantasy lover! 

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There is also a 12-episode anime version if you want to check it out. Though it covers only a very small portion of the manga, it does adapt most of the important parts (with a few changes of course) up until the last few episodes where events start showing up out of chronological order.

Seiho Boys High School, Vol. 1 by Kaneyoshi Izumi

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Find it on Goodreads

Buy it at Chapters/Indigo

Buy it at Barnes & Noble

Buy it at Book Depository

Buy it at Amazon

I still question my decision to do a review on this 8 volume manga series, and not because I didn’t wholly enjoy it. In fact, my hesitation comes from the fact that I not only enjoyed it, but from time to time found myself suffering from convulsions of laughter. Normally that’s simply a good thing, but I must admit that some of the often vulgar and at best inappropriate humour may have crossed lines here and there.

Synopsis: Seiho Boys High School is more or less exactly what the name implies. Despite being a shojo manga (Japanese comic targeted for young adult girls), the story centers a group of young males at an all male boarding high school in the middle of nowhere. The POV starts with a young 16yr old named Maki, but often switches between the small group of friends as the lament and curse their fate of being stranded without any female in sight. Worrying about forgetting how to talk to girls, past issues, grades, and getting caught with their secret stashes during inspections are just some of the typical things these boys get themselves caught up in as they search for love…or simply to get laid.

Rating: I rate this hilarious contemporary 7/10 Unicorn Horns!

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This ‘crossing of lines’ is something to be expected when a genre challenging series such as this hits the shelves. This shojo challenges it’s typical predecessors in two ways; It’s entirely male centered cast of characters, and it’s incredibly ‘inappropriate for it’s genre’ type of humour. Personally, with the exception of one character’s actions when it came to women, I didn’t see much wrong with the blunt sexual humour, but can easily say that many could find the more…unapologetic and inappropriate scenes/comments offensive. So a big warning to those that would be put off by raunchy humour.

The only negative thing I have to say about this series, other than a couple personally line crossing comments, is that this hilarious contemporary read does loose momentum in later installments as things begin to feel a bit repetitive here and there, or seemed to lack direction (something I believe the author pointed out themselves). Otherwise I loved the characters and the humour even more than I did the overall episodic story of a group of boys struggling to find love and keep it (though that was pretty funny in and of itself). 

I recommend this to anyone looking for some good romantic comedy, with an emphasis on comedy of the inappropriate kind.

Pre-Hiatus Review Highlights

Hey guys! I’d just like to do an overall highlight of some of the reviews posted before I went on hiatus. I missed doing one for the months prior and would still like to highlight a few, so here’s a condensed overview of the reviews I posted before going on break (Click on the title to read more):

Best Snowball (Series)
*By “Snowball” I mean a series/book that starts incredibly slow, but is worth the wait*

Shaman King, Vol.1: A Shaman in Tokyo by Hiroyuki Takei

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The series is about a young Shaman named Yoh, who in the first volume is starting at a new school in Tokyo…Through a series of events which involve ghosts, supernatural occurrences, and encounters with a “thug” named Ryu, Manta and Yoh become friends…In this volume we are introduced to Admidamaru, a 600-year-old samurai ghost and to a fellow Shaman named Ren who has a particularly sinister interest in Yoh and Admidamaru…

I give Shaman King, Vol. 1: A Shaman in Tokyo a rating of 7 out of 10 Unicorn Horns. Overall the story was not amazingly entertaining, but that did not bother me at all because the story quickly picks up towards the end and you can easily identify the main focus/purpose of this initial volume in the series.

Best Artwork

Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodríguez

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After their father is killed, Tyler, Kinsey and Bode move to the family estate, Keyhouse in Lovecraft, Massachusetts with their mother Nina….The youngest of the Lovecraft siblings, Bode, comes across a key that unlocks a Ghost Door which separates the soul of the person who “walks” through from their body. In the nature of all good fiction the story is not easy sailing from then on and the family soon has much more to worry about than just healing and moving forward.

I give Locke and Key a well deserved 7.25 Unicorn Horns out of a possible 10. In addition to the well executed storyline this graphic novel has exceptional artwork. Gabriel Rodríguez’s illustrations in this series is mind-blowing and his art style lends itself so well to the story.

Best Character Development

Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 1 by Mizuho Kusanagi

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Yona of the Dawn is a fantasy set in a kingdom called Kohka. The story centers around main character princess Yona as she prepares for her 16th birthday. Yona, the only child of widow King IL, is a pampered young lady, but things quickly change. Very quickly. As most know nothing good happens for royalty on their coming-of-age birthdays. 

Rating: 8.5/10 Unicorn Horns. I did NOT at all expect for this story to turn out the way it did. I can promise watching this fiery spirited princess transition into a determined warrior with open eyes to the reality of her kingdom is every bit worth it.

Most Thought-Provoking Story

The Beauty, Vol. 1 by Jason A. Hurley & Jeremy Haun

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“Two years ago , a new sexually transmitted disease took the world by storm. This S.T.D. was unlike any other that had come before. This was a disease that people actually wanted. “Victims” of this epidemic were physically changed by the virus. Fat melted away, thinning hair returned, skin blemishes faded, and their facial features slimmed. It became known as the beauty.” Pg. 1 of The Beauty

Rating: 9.5/10 Unicorn Horns! One thing I loved was the bits of real life socially controversial thoughts and ideas about beauty woven in here and there…