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Tarot Cafe Volume One: 01/22/10
I've mentioned before the diverse selection of graphic novels and manga my local library has. The latest volume I picked up is the start of a seven part manhwa (Korean manga) series, Tarot Cafe by Sang-Sun Park.
Pamela reads fortunes for a living. After hours she takes special clients who need to harness her clairvoyant powers. After a brief introduction the rest of the book is divided into four episodes: one per tarot reading. They are: A Wish-Fulfilling Cat, Eternal Beauty, A Fairy and the first part of A Heartless Princess, an Alchemist, and a Jester.
Of the four my favorite is the first. The story of the cat's unnatural love for his human mistress is heart breaking. Eternal Beauty is the old emo vampire who falls in love but makes enemies in the process. That sort of story has been done (and is still being done) to death. A Fairy is the story of a fair folk cursed into the body of a little girl and forever pining after her fiancé. Time is cruel to her. The final story acts as a cliff hanger to the second volume; it's the creepy tale of an alchemist who desperately wants a princess to love him. His gifts though reveal an ugly side to his beloved.
Sang-Sun Park's artwork is beautiful but ambiguous. One reviewer complained that all her characters look like girls. I wouldn't go that far but her magical characters do tend to be overly beautiful beyond even what seems typical in the manga equivalents.
Tarot Cafe Volume 1 was one of the quickest manga volumes I've read. I plan to see if my library has any more books from the series.