I’m still trying to get through Kiss of Fire. The writing has improved a little and the story idea is still interesting enough for me to keep trying. I’m hoping I won’t have to skim it. In the meantime, this is a manga I found at Barnes and Noble while looking for something else. After reading the first (it went by much easier than Kiss of Fire), I’m looking forward to the second.
The Earl and The Fairy, Vol. 1 by Ayuko
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Earl and the Fairy has a lot of typical shoujo manga/romance elements. We have the “wealthy, bad boy up to no good hero”, involved with the “far too kind for her own good heroine”. There’s flirting, feinting, and moments when she’s not sure who to trust.
However, there’s a number of elements that draw me in.
Part of it is the artwork. It’s very lovely, especially the way the characters are drawn. Hats off to Ayuko there.
Part of it is the plot. The Earl, in this case, is Lord Edgar Ashenbert, supposed descendent of the Blue Knight, a mythical member of the fairy realm given a title by King Edward I and land to go with it. However, the fairy blood in Edgar’s veins has been diluted so much that he can no longer see the fairies he’s supposedly going to rule if they can get the sword that proves his title. He doesn’t even really believe in them.
That’s where Lydia Carlton, fairy doctor, comes in. She can see things he can’t, and knows things he doesn’t. The only problem is that she isn’t sure she can trust that he is who he says he is. You see, he looks a lot like an American murderer named Sir John.
What saves this particular bad boy is his relationship with two other characters. One, a young man named Raven, has a violent tendency that seems to only be used at Lord Edgar’s command. And he only commands it when truly necessary. In fact, more often than not, he’s telling Raven not to use violence.
The other character is a beautiful girl in a suit named Ermine. There’s obvious affection between the two of them and I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out there’s something more than friendship there. It’s through this relationship that we get a better sense of who Lord Edgar is.
Well, that’s not entirely true. Lydia, with her enthusiasm and incredible kindness, manages, in true romance fashion, to bring out more of his true self than any other character. It’s with her that he shines best, especially in the last chapter of the volume.
There are some plot twists that made me raise my eyebrows in disbelief. Sir John’s mark and where it was placed was one. Another was the slavery of Sir John. Apparently he was sold to a slaver in the “American South”. I wasn’t sure if they meant the South in the United States, where I don’t remember ever hearing of a white slave in a single page of history. South or Central America sounds more plausible, especially given the way two of the characters with him are drawn. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sir John was held as a slave in the Caribbean. That said, the plot is pretty good.
As for what kept me reading, Lord Edgar especially intrigues me as a man who’s completely focused on a myth, yet doesn’t believe in the creatures who are part of that myth. His reliance on Lydia is both professional and increasingly personal, and yet, by the end of the volume, we realize there’s another conflict he’s dealing with that goes deeper than the search for the Merrow Star. That’s what hooked me by the end of the volume. And finding out more about Lord Edgar is the reason I’ll buy Volume Two.