Lizzie Newton is a precocious, scientifically minded young lady in Victorian society. Lizzie also writes mystery stories under a pseudonym and craves a way to show off her true talents at solving crimes. Needless to say, she doesn’t quite fit in with the posh ladies who endlessly talk fashion and romance. Luckily for her, but not for the victim, Lizzie is present at a tea party where an apparent suicide occurs inside a locked room. Lizzie, however, questions that assumption based on her knowledge of detective work. She jumps at the chance to examine the body, much to the horror of the other women and the police, and concludes the man was murdered. However, because she is a young lady, Lizzie has to convince someone in authority or the murderer will never be brought to justice.
Lizzie’s style is that of Sherlock Holmes, except that she lives before his time, as the editors note. Her character is a little too callous for 19th century England, alienating most of the people around her. However, Lizzie doesn’t mind, since she finds her contemporaries to be frivolous. Meanwhile, Lizzie is being pushed into an engagement that promises to throw a wrench in her plans to remain aloof.
I am a fan of both Victorian tales and mystery stories, so I had high hopes for Miss Lizzie. The tale illustrates the traditional Victorian roles for women and the prejudices that they faced if they tried to be unconventional. Being a Sherlock Holmes fan, this mystery itself felt a little too familiar, like I had read almost the same thing before. The twist this time is that Lizzie’s brilliant deductions are not being heeded by anyone and she has to work incredibly hard to find someone to listen to her. The gender dynamics keep the story fresh.
The art is in traditional manhwa style, with gorgeous Victorian backgrounds and characters. I very much enjoyed the manga Emma by Kaoru Mori, and Lizzie reminded me how much I enjoyed that particular setting, especially depictions of the intricate fashions and social customs. However, the character of Lizzie is significantly feistier than Emma, both in her speech and in her expressions. The bit of gore in the book remains fairly tasteful, with one notable exception as Lizzie examines the dead body.
Overall, this manhwa is entertaining, hinting at a romantic piece. While it is not going to be intellectually mind blowing, Lizzie provides a nice, sassy escape into Victorian English society. I look forward to checking out the next volume from my library.
Lizzie Newton: Victorian Mysteries, vol. 1
by Hey-jin Jeon
Art by Ki-ha Lee
Seven Seas Entertainment, 2011
Publisher Age Rating: Teen