Manga Review: MADE IN ABYSS Vol. 10 by Akihito Tsukushi (2022)

Genre: Dark Fantasy Seinen
Year Release in English: 2022
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warnings: Body horror, gore, suicidal ideation
There may be spoilers for Volumes 1 through 3, 4 and 5, and 6 through 9.

We’re at the end of another arc in Made in Abyss and all I can say is: glad Riko made another friend, but holy shit at what cost.

The Hollow Village’s upset is definitely more philosophical than strictly bad bodily shit happens to the characters (though there is plenty of that). So, seeing all the emotional threads come together made me glued to each chapter.

I have a theory that what makes dark fantasy and grimdark slap so hard is the promise of cool stuff to look at amidst all the distress and duress. The battle between Faputa and the Turbinid-Dragon is absolutely incredible. It’s so easy to follow, but what really shines here is the culmination of the themes and stakes. I love how Tsukushi ties together the entire concept of value, but more importantly, how it ties into humanity, especially as the bends in this level of the abyss lead to loss of said humanity.

They’re at the literal bottom of the barrel, and I’m so nervous about what’s to come.

Manga Review: THE KINGDOMS OF RUIN Vol. 3 & 4 by yoruhashi (2021-2022)

Genre: Dark Fantasy Seinen
Year Release in English: 2020 – 2021
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Reminder: The star rating reflects overall opinion of the series. Click here for my reviews of Volumes 1 and 2.

This series continues delivering hyper violence with a politically-charged back drop while humans witches face off in a war of obliteration while one young man is on a mission to eliminate them both.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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ARC Review: GALLANT by V.E. Schwab (2022)

Genre: Young Adult Dark Fantasy
Year Release: March 1, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books | Libro.fm

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read an eARC from the publisher
Content warning: dead parents, dead sibling, self-harm for blood magic, body horror

2022 is really delivering on the haunted house books. In this ghoulish fantasy, a mute girl named Olivia receives a mysterious letter from a previously-unknown Uncle Arthur calling her home to an estate called Gallant. Having lived in an orphanage all her life, she’s excited to be welcomed into a place she can call home. But between the missing residents and the ghouls haunting the halls, there is more undead danger afoot than she could have ever predicted.

Told in Schwab’s signature precise prose and featuring spooky illustrations, this book is a whimsical ride through a scary fairy tale of two houses, where Death resides.

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Manga Review: DAI DARK Vol. 3 by Q Hayashida (2021)

Genre: Science fiction horror comedy shonen
Year Release in English: 2021
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Reminder: The star rating reflects overall opinion of the series.

See my review of volumes 1 and 2 here. My lord, does this series continue to be grisly fun where not everyone can be trusted as far as you can throw them.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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ARC Review: PLAGUE BIRDS by Jason Sanford (2021)

Genre: Adult Dark Fantasy
Year Release: September 21, 2021
Buy Links: Apex Book Company | Bookshop

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an ARC from the author
Content warning: blood, gore, body horror, self-harm for the purposes of magic, gaslighting, violence

You’ve heard of plague doctors, get ready for plague birds. Plague birds are people bonded with blood AI who exact justice by killing the wrong doer. They are very powerful and very feared. Crista bonds herself to one named Red Day and embarks on a journey to attempt to save her village from a rogue faction called the Veil. There are twists and turns and memory manipulation galore, while the real danger might be coming from inside the metaphorical house.

Deftly toeing the line between dark fantasy and science fiction, this book is perfect for those wanting to read compelling characters with science and technology that feels like magic.

The author Jason Sanford will be featured on the blog in an interview on September 14th, 2021.

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ARC Review: THE WOLF AMONG THE WILD HUNT by Merc Fenn Wolfmoor & Andrew Garin (ill.) (2021)

Genre: Adult Dark Fantasy
Year Release: September 14, 2021
Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble (Nook)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an ARC from the author
Content warning: blood, gore, body horror

Skythulf is a scythewulf, neither a man nor a beast, who must serve the Wild Hunt in order to regain his honor after killing an impostor nun. Told in flashbacks in a world where myths come to life, this dark fantasy light novel is not one to miss.

The author Merc Fenn Wolfmoor will be featured on the blog in an interview on September 9th, 2021.

There is so much packed into this neat little horror package. The worldbuilding comes at you hard and fast, unfolding in vivid detail. Myths get introduced, stories told with folkloric prose, only to show up as character and plot events page later. It’s riveting and makes for a quick read, even with the short page count. The illustrations also lend a mythologic air to this story.

I also really enjoyed the relationships. There’s definitely a bit of a nature versus nurture when it comes to Skythulf and his thorniness. He has tenderness and honor in Brennus, and I loved the contrast in that relationship. One is very much of the world, while the other has been shunned by it. It’s beautiful amid the gory, violence pulled straight out of the aesthetics of Northern European folklore. I think what also helps is that the world is gentle towards those who are queer, and this bit of kindness doesn’t conflict with the otherwise intense story and world Wolfmoor presents.

Manga Review: DAI DARK Vol. 1-2 by Q Hayashida (2021)

Genre: Science fiction horror comedy shonen
Year Release in English: 2021
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Reminder: The star rating reflects overall opinion of the series.

In short, perfect for fans trying to fill in the space skeleton dark fantasy horror void while waiting for any news about Alecto the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Light Novel Review: BERSERK OF GLUTTONY Vol 1. by Isshiki Ichika & Fame (2020)

Genre: Dark Fantasy
Year Release in English: 2020
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warnings: Abuse, violence, fantasy violence, dismemberment, death of a parent, poverty

Welcome to my first ever light novel. It came up on my radar because two of my friends had worked on the editing and localization, but I was not prepared for the fun time to be had.

Fate Graphite has an ability called Gluttony, which grants him massive power at the expense of, well, starvation. He’s a commoner who happens upon a snarky sword named Greed who helps him enhance his abilities at the cost of leveling up. He also comes under the employment of Lady Roxy, with whom he has very oblivious romantic feelings.

What surprised me is that despite the very RPG-esque descriptions of abilities and leveling, this isn’t an isekai. This light novel starts and stays in its secondary world fantasy. It’s a bit cheesy and takes some getting used to but Ichika uses it to great effect to establish stakes.

The art is great. Loved seeing the depiction of key scenes and getting to know Fate and Roxy a bit better. Seeing Greed transformed between sword and bow helped put it together better than my mind’s image could supply.

Overall, fun dynamics between characters, interesting world-building, definitely will continue reading.