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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Selah's Manga Mania Reviews: Alice in Murderland by Kaori Yuki

(Kakei no Arisu)
June 23, 2015
Volumes: 8 
176 pages
Genre: Gothic, Fantasy
Published by Kodansha
English publisher: Yen Press
Demographic: Shōjo
Original run 28 January 2014 – present
Now! Let the "Mad Tea Party" begin!

The Kuonji clan, owner of one of the world's top conglomerates, has a tradition: Once a month, family members attend a "Mad Tea Party." But at the latest gathering, the nine Kuonji siblings in attendance are shocked to hear a pronouncement issue from the lips of their mother, Olga-

"I'd like you children to now fight one another to the death!"

As chaos erupts, Stella, the fourth daughter, loses all reason, and suddenly a whole new Stella, complete with blonde hair and blue dress, comes out to play-!!
What can I say, I love Halloween, so you get a bonus review this month. Occasionally, I’d like to feature first volumes, because I haven’t read every part of everything. This is usually because I don’t usually buy stuff based on one volume, and if the library doesn’t have more than that, it takes a phenomenal series to encourage me to take the plunge off volume one.

So this month’s First Volume look is at Alice in Murderland.

Let me say first that Kaori Yuki knows horror. This is the same author as Godchild and the Earl Cain books, as well as others. The subject matter explored is always interesting and sideways, and the art style is always gorgeous and decadent.

Stella is one of nine adopted siblings in the wealthy and influential Kuoniji family. At the start of the volume she’s required to attend one of her family’s monthly tea parties and bring a guest. Only this time, there’s a twist…the siblings must now fight to the death over the course of one year until one of them remains, with their guests being held captive as insurance. The winner will be the heir to the family and its wealth, and can have the consort of their choice.
This volume alone there’s a lot of action, some character development and red herrings, and the basic plot set up. You feel for some of the siblings, not so much others, and get the feel for the layout of the estate and different possibilities. The parents are genuinely creepy and there’s the detail that they’re possibly immortal. There’s also the wrench thrown into the gears that Stella has an alternate personality called Bloody Alice that comes out when she’s fighting against the other kids. Note that there are actually eight volumes out, this is just the only one I’ve read so far.
The Good: The author does twisted very well. I had picked this up on title alone, not seeing who it was by, and halfway through I kept thinking ‘this really reads like…oh, yep, it’s Kaori Yuki!’ The art is also full of clothing and location details, which mean the gore and horror are also going to be pretty over the top. Stella is fairly likeable and you are put in a position where you care about her survival, or really just the survival of anyone at all because show up to a tea party then have to fight to the death? Dude. Also, Stella’s mother alone gets major props for freaky deaky factor.

The Bad: It’s a first volume, so a lot of it is set up. There’s the typical I have a crush on this person stuff to wade through, and I feel like a little bit of the exposition can be a bit wobbly at times. It also feels like a lot of the action finally starts to ramp in the latter part of the volume, and then it ends – which, yeah, obviously that’s meant to make you go grab the next bit.

The Ick: I feel like I probably should disclaim this, because if you aren’t familiar that this can be a thing in some manga and this author seems to use it frequently. The person Stella has a crush on is her older (adopted) brother, and I believe in this volume you find out that her mother and father are actually siblings (cannot remember if they’re adopted, as well, because if I remember right that is part of the game, like selecting your children to be the pawns). Note that I don’t condone incest of any type and that’s part of my reasoning for kind of wishing I could read ahead a bit. That being said, it does add to the odd, twisted horror vibe, but I don’t think it was necessary. As far as I know, things of this nature are only mentioned in this series (although I have no idea what happens to Stella and her crush, I know there is talk that if she wins she can make him her consort). So if even the mention of that creeps you out, skip it. Also, hi, because the series is based on fighting to the death, there’s a bunch of violence and blood and people talking about killing each other like it’s another day at work.
Would I read on? Eh, I don’t know. First, let me say Alice in Wonderland really isn’t my jam, and it seems to be one of the most overdone themes in manga. That being said, I like the horror angle. The alternate personality seems a little forced to me, but I also know that the author takes her time and there’s probably going to be a lot unleashed in later volumes to explain and balance everything out. I really, really wish I could’ve grabbed more than vol 1 from the library to get a better feel, because a lot of this book was the explanation of the game, the layout of the estate, and general introductions. Some intro volumes really hook me, others not so much, but this falls somewhere in between. I do like the author, but would I rush right out and buy if that’s the only way to read it? Likely not, or at least not until I could read one or two more books to get a better feel.

3 Sheep

About Selah Janel:
Selah Janel is a writer who is trying to start doing that again instead of reading manga all the time.

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