The Unofficial Grand Orchestra

Since I started reading manga steadily in 2012, I’ve discovered so many unique story lines and wonderful, warped, and wonderfully warped characters.  I’ve reread Kaori Yuki’s Grand Guignol Orchestra series four times since then, so I thought it was about time to write a review of the five-volume series.

Heading up the unofficial Grand Orchestra, Lucille and his companions Kohaku and Gwindel travel from town to town, entertaining the masses, making money, and facing their toughest audience.  Guignols, people infected with a deadly virus that turns them into zombie dolls, ravage the world.  Intent to stop the guignols before they destroy humanity, the Grand Orchestra roves the countryside, killing guignols as they go.  Unbeknownst to most of them, the town that they’re about to enter is full of secrets.  Deadly, tragic secrets.

I was thoroughly disturbed the first time I read Grand Guignol Orchestra but as I reread them over the years, I saw how horribly twisted and painfully human the characters were.  The series was definitely one you’d have to read a second time to fully understand because there were so many intricacies that would be difficult to appreciate the first time around.  Filled with more heartache and creepiness than I bargained for, Kaori Yuki has managed to pick my emotions apart in five volumes.  The short story at the end of the fifth volume had me biting my nails and reading through my fingers.

I rate the series as a whole four out of five stars.

Welcome to the Circus

Slice and dice,

We’re playing Tic-Tac-Toe on your skin.

Flip the knife and flash that smile,

And pray to God you don’t miss the apple on my head.

The lion growls and the crowd gasps

As he sticks his head in between the beast’s jaws.

Spinning, dancing, and soaring through the air,

Our eyes meet as I catch you.

Dark and handsome,

He sticks a sword down his throat.

Tiny the Elephant toots his horn

And balances on the ball.

“Freaks!” the ringmaster shouts in the din.  “Come see the freaks!”

Elsie the Two-Headed Telepath takes center stage

With Oscar the Albino and Jenny the Bearded Woman by her side.

They may be official

But we’re all weirdos here.

Welcome to the circus.

Copyright © 2017 by Nita Pan

All rights reserved. This post or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a review.

 

Down, Down in the Underground

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Holding promises of magic, music, and a fairy tale atmosphere, I knew that from the moment I saw S. Jae-Jones’s Wintersong it would be love.  For once, I didn’t wait eons to bring it home.  I stared at it, smelled the pages, and began consuming it.

Ever since she was a child, Liesl heard stories of the Goblin King.  Inspired by them, she began musical compositions.  But now she’s eighteen and stuck running the family inn, and so her musical dreams are slipping away.  then, in the blink of an eye, her sister is kidnapped by the man who has haunted her as long as she can remember.  Liesl has no choice but to rescue her sibling.

With the seductive darkness of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales and an aching beauty all of its own, Wintersong had me in tears and frustrated.  Not tears of frustration, but tears for a delectable spine-tingling agony.  S. Jae-Jones has spun an original masterpiece that delivered a dark fantasy wrapped romance dipped in mythology so alluring that even my cold heart swooned and shattered.  My review doesn’t do it justice.  The best way I can describe it is as beautiful ache.  Like (unrequited) love at its most painful.  I wanted to keep reading it over and over for the first time.

I bestow upon this first of a duet five out of five glimmering stars.