Author: Calissa Leigh
Artist: Yishan Li
Publisher: Yaoi Press
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: March 2006
Synopsis: “Gin is falsely accused of murder and sacrificed to a demon. However, when the demon realizes his innocence, he takes pity and flies Gin to Aluria, a land of mystical creatures. But Gin is betrayed by a vampire named Kakale. And if things weren’t bad enough, Kakale casts a spell so that Gin looks like Kakale and Kakale looks like Gin. This is very bad for Gin considering Kakale is a wanted criminal…”
The Aluria Chronicles begins with the introduction of Gin, a pretty young slave boy who accidentally plays a key part in a man’s murder when trying to defend himself. Accused of the crime, he’s sacrificed to a demon as part of a larger scheme. But the demon takes pity on Gin, sensing his innocence, and instead whisks the sacrifice away to a land of mythical creatures.
And it’s there in the land of Aluria where the bulk of the story occurs. Not knowing if Gin is friend or foe, the locals toss in him jail as he awaits trial. Here he meets Kakale, a beautiful and seemingly kind man who takes care of him for their short stay together. However, after a passionate night of passing the time, Gin awakes to discover that Kakale has cast a spell that’s switched their appearances. He soons finds himself wandering the streets in the body of a wanted criminal and is found by Kakale’s awaiting lover.
The body-snatching, romantic elements of The Aluria Chronicles were basic and easy enough to follow. A little lacking in substance when it comes to any sort of character depth, but none the less played itself out alright. Things get a little hazy when it comes to the return of the men who initially sacrificed Gin, though. From their momentary mention of ulterior sacrificing moments, to their return at the end, they felt more out of place than offering any real drama. I would’ve like to see their involvement end at the beginning and have more time dedicated to weaving a more interesting web with Gin, Kakale and their lover, Rakioul. A thumbs up from me for the final panel of the story, though, which gave me a good laugh (intentionally so) as it playfully mocked the story.
After the end of the title portion, comes a shorter unrelated tale about two men in feudal Japan vying for the same woman. With help from a little magic spell mishap, the two find themselves on each other’s minds, much more than the Lady Chikako they initially set out after. I enjoyed reading this tale of is-it-love because the direction it would take did manage to keep me guessing, even if the end result was expectedly predictable.
Art wise, I’m partial to Yishan Li’s work on the title story. It’s clean, tidy and stays pretty consistent throughout the story. My biggest complaint would be the pacing of the story, however, which felt really inconsistent and chunky moving from panel to panel. I enjoyed seeing Yishan Li’s work more in some of their other shorter works, where uneven pacing issues weren’t nearly as prevalent as they were here.
Overall, The Aluria Chronicles is one of those books where I found the writing pretty weak at times, and the art decent but not especially notable, and yet I still found the book quite entertaining. If you like supporting global artists, and enjoying some fantasy boys’ love while you do it, then you’d probably find it worth picking up this neatly contained one-shot for pretty boys, vampires and some feudal-lord-loving sprinkled on top for good measure.
Review written September 8, 2008 by Lissa Pattillo.
Book purchased from vendor at Fan Expo 2008