Lydia is a fairy doctor and she’s used to being ignored or talked about because no one around her believes that fairies really exist. Why should they? The Victorian Era is a time of progress and advancement. Old beliefs have no place there. But one person believes in Lydia – the mysterious young man who rescues her from a kidnapping, only to turn around and kidnap her himself. The man, who calls himself Edgar Ashenbert, Earl Ibrazel, but he bears a striking resemblance to “Sir John,” a killer wanted in both America and Great Britain. He says he wants Lydia for her skills with fairies, which supposedly will help her find the legendary jewel called the Merrow Star, but can Lydia trust a man who isn’t who he appears to be? With forces chasing them from all sides, Lydia must quickly decide if she should work for Edgar or if she should betray him to save her own life.
I didn’t realize that The Earl and the Fairy, vol. 1 is the beginning of the manga adaptation of Mizue Tani’s light novel series until I read Ayuko’s note at the end of the book, which is probably a good thing considering my knee-jerk bias against most adapations. But the awkward pacing and sense of missing information that I occasionally feel are the natural problem of adaptations did not seem to be present here. It’s clear that this is only the beginning of the series, but it is an engaging beginning, full of intrigue and enjoyable confusion. Readers will appreciate Lydia’s determination to stand-fast and hold to her beliefs and the tricky young Earl is a charmer who is as likely to win readers’ hearts as he is to win Lydia’s. It’s too bad that Lydia’s ability to see fairies which no one else can see is brought up at the beginning of the book, but soon dropped. Hopefully that fantasy element will be brought back later on in the series, because it is definitely part of the appeal for potential readers.
Ayuko’s art is pretty enough to fit both the fantasy and the romance parts of the story. She uses a thin line which makes the pages feel light and airy. Her character designs will remind readers of the realistic older teen series Nana (by Ai Yazawa; published by VIZ), the fantasy series Natsume’s Book of Friends (by Yuki Midorikawa; published by VIZ), and the gentle boys’ love stand-alone Only the Ring Finger Knows (illustrated by Hotaru Odagiri; written by Satoru Kannagi; published by DMP). That familiarity, plus the historical romance pose on the cover – complete with cute cat! – should serve to pull in shojo fans. Though there is some violence, nothing here should be too much for the average teen collection. And as the series is only four volumes long, it makes it a good investment for libraries who need more shojo titles, but who want something a little bit different.
The Earl and the Fairy, vol. 1
by Mizue Tani
Art by Ayuko
Publisher Age Rating: Teen/13