Kiyo, a poor girl who is determined to do well in school and eventually become a lawyer, inherits a mysterious, broken-down ruin of a mansion from her grandmother. She plans to sell the house and use the money for her education, but she doesn’t realize that someone is already living there. Two vampires, Kuroboshi and his servant, Alshu, have made their home there and they aren’t planning on leaving. In fact, Kuroboshi has decided to make Kiyo his bride --- the only human he’ll drink blood from --- whether she wants him to or not!
Nowadays, any vampire title must fight hard against the host of other fangs-and-capes books that are being published. Kazuko Furumiya’s book might not stand out completely, and it won’t win a ton of points for originality, but it is a fun addition to the genre. Three things make Furumiya’s book work: humor, romance, and not trying to shove too many things into her story. The humor comes about mostly through Kiyo. She’s a strong, independent girl. She tends to react to sneak attempts to suck her blood by beating up the vampire. She refuses to be scared of things that go bump in the night and doesn’t see the need to have a boy save her from hard situations. That, of course, doesn’t mean that the handsome Kuroboshi doesn’t swoop in on a regular basis. This is a romance, after all. But he is willing to let Kiyo be who she is; indeed, that’s what he finds so appealing about her. Alshu is mostly present to help complicate Kiyo and Kuroboshi’s courtship as are some nasty bullies at Kiyo’s school. But other than that, there aren’t many secondary characters to clutter up the simple chapters.
Unfortunately, the combination of overshading on the part of Furumiya and poor production quality on the part of TOKYOPOP makes the art muddy and uninteresting. Furumiya has a real knack for designing costumes, especially ones that look like real people would wear, and her characters are good looking, tough, or silly as needed, but she overuses screentones. Shadowy bubbles on top of and behind characters make the page look cluttered and dirty. She also doesn’t seem to know what to do with Alshu’s long hair. For the first half of the book, he has odd shading that makes his hair look two-toned or dripping wet. That stops halfway through, but by then it’s harder to tell who he is. The large amount of tone might work better, though, if TOKYOPOP had been more careful with their printing. Pages are dark, the images almost fuzzy. The originally painted images at the beginning of chapters look as if they were printed on gray paper and details are lost. Throughout the book, lines appear unfinished and tones bleed into each other. The poor print quality almost ruins the book.
In the end, though, the story is sweet and charming and vampire fans will find it a cute addition to the genre. There is some kissing and some bloodsucking, but nothing over the top for a book rated for teens 13 and older. A non-paranormal bonus story at the end is just as romantic, though slightly less swoon-inducing, and also offers a strong-girl-attracts-good-men storyline. The entire series is only two volumes long, which is a refreshing change from longer series. It also makes this an easy choice for libraries reluctant to buy yet another vampire title. This will help feed the blood lust of fans without breaking the budget.
Reviewed by Snow Wildsmith on October 18, 2011
Bloody Kiss, Volume 1