Void's Enigmatic Mansion 1“Be careful what you wish for.” This familiar adage—and errant humanity’s tendency to ignore it—serves as the central theme of this Victorian-flavored horror manhwa set in a seven-story apartment building owned by the titular Mr. Void.

In a departure from similar cautionary tales, such as Pet Shop of Horrors, Nightmare Inspector, and XxxHolic, the wishers in this story are not actively shopping for fulfillment. Ignorant of the power of their own words, they are simply neighbors who are held to passing, hyperbolic comments they have made to the wrong person. Interestingly, that person is not the ominously-named Mr. Void, who resides on the top floor. Rather, it is the young, friendly third-floor tenant, Lavelle, who clearly finds this responsibility more burden than boon. Even as he draws unwitting residents into revealing their desires, Lavelle attempts to steer them in a safer direction. But with topics as foreboding as illicit taxidermy, romantic poetry, and even the weather, the odds are not in favor of a cheerful outcome.

The initial volume includes the first four chapters of the series, spanning the expression of three wishes and the repercussions of two of them. The reader has little doubt as to the ultimate resolution of the third wish, which is one of the drawbacks of such heavy-handed storytelling. However, the atmosphere of obvious, imminent doom allies the reader more closely with the enigmatic Lavelle than his confidants as he helplessly watches them dig their own graves. His role and the reason he’s bound to it are the real mysteries here, but the reader will have to wait for future installments to find any answers.

The full-color, digitally-painted artwork gives this series a Western comics feel, as do its period English setting, names, and figures—although younger, attractive characters like Lavelle have a recognizable manga/manhwa look and a few chibi panels interject some awkward humor. While the softly glowing color palette easily lends itself to peaceful moments and bright, sunny riverside scenes, it can contrast with the images when the tone of the content takes a darker turn. Whether that contrast adds to or detracts from the unsettling effect of the story remains for the reader to decide.

Despite creator HeeEun Kim’s history as a shojo artist (e.g. A Kiss for My Prince), her adaptation of JiEun Ha’s original novel falls into the supernatural horror genre. In particular, a scene that depicts a taxidermist’s tactile appreciation of his own skill could make some readers uncomfortable. The series’ mild language, after-the-fact violence, and non-sexual nudity—aside from a prostitute’s barely-covered bosom and skin-revealing taunts—make the series most appropriate for older teens. Adults who don’t mind knowing where many of the vignette plots are going may enjoy keeping a close eye on the through line.

For eager readers who don’t want to wait for the next collected volume to piece things together, the English publisher is releasing monthly digital chapters simultaneously with the Korean editions through their app and online vendors.

Void’s Enigmatic Mansion, Vol. 1
by HeeEun Kim, JiEun Ha
ISBN: 9780316410991
Yen Press, 2014
Publisher Age Rating: OT (16+)

  • Jenny Ertel

    Past Reviewer

    This reviewer is not longer actively working on our site, but we would not be here if not for our many dedicated contributors over the years. We thank all of them for their reviews, features, and support!

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