The Darkest Night Vol 1

The Darkest Night Vol 1 by Earithen and Gena Showalter

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Usually when I read Harlequin manga, I haven’t read the books they’ve been adapted from, but in this case I have read a few volumes of Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld series before trying out the manga adaptation. As you might expect from the title, this is a contemporary paranormal romance. Ashlyn is hanging out in Hungary, intrigued by local rumors that angels live in a mysterious castle in the woods. She’s tormented by her psychic abilities and is seeking peace. She’s been alone almost all her life due to her psychic powers, and was raised as a bit of a lab rat as opposed to growing up with a normal family. Alone in the woods, Ashiyn encounters a tall, dark, brooding, and handsome man who seems to enjoy lurking about while carrying a variety of weaponry. Ashlyn thinks that Maddox is extremely hot despite the blood he is splattered with, and she notices that the voices in her head go quiet when she’s near him. True love!!!!

Maddox takes Ashlyn back to his castle, only for her to discover that his large group of roommates are also equally hot and tormented. It turns out that they are suffering various eternal conditions due to a curse, and each embody a negative so Maddox has to be chained up and killed every night, only to be resurrected the following day. Even for someone familiar with the source material, there’s too much backstory to be contained in just one manga volume, and the explanations of the Hunters the Lords of the Underworld fight, the women that tempt them, and something about Pandora’s box sort of derail any forward momentum with the plot and make the motivations of the characters a bit opaque. I don’t remember this being quite as much of an issue in the novel, so I think it is just very difficult to shoehorn that much worldbuilding into the number of pages allowed by the manga format.

The adaptation by Earithen is good, with distinct character designs for all the Lords of the Underworld. Maddox looks appropriately tormented and Ashlyn is charming and innocent. I was amused by the number of panels where Maddox totes Ashlyn around by balancing her on one of his arms. There are a few panels here and there with awkward poses, but for the most part the art is better than usual for a Harlequin manga adaptation. I feel like generally historical or contemporary Harlequin manga get translated into English a bit more often than paranormals, so it is nice to see emanga branching out a bit more into various romance subgenres.

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