Sunday, November 11, 2007

'The Tarot Cafe' Vol. 1 by Sang-Sun Park

ISBN: 1595325557
Format: Paperback, 192pp
Publisher: TOKYOPOP
Pub. Date: March 2005
Price: $9.99

I picked up the first volume of The Tarot Café on a whim. I’d read a little bit about the series online and seen nothing but rave reviews. When I saw it on the shelf I thought, why not? I’m so glad that I did, I feel as if I’ve stumbled into really fantastic with Tarot Café.

Pamela is a clairvoyant and the owner of The Tarot Café where she caters to a supernatural clientele. Eventually they all come to Pamela to know what their futures will hold. A wish-fulfilling cat, vampire, fairy, and an alchemist people the stories of this volume. Pamela reads their pasts, presents, and their possible futures while reserving judgment.

In episode 1 ‘A Wish-Fulfilling Cat’ we met a cat who is able to fulfill the wishes of his mistress. This one was particularly heart wrenching as you learn that the cat has fallen in love with his human mistress only to have all in love with another.

With Episode 2 ‘Eternal Beauty’ we met a vampire who is cursed to repeat his mistakes over and over. Doomed to kill the one he loves and live with the burden he fights to break free of the vicious cycle. He comes to Pamela for help already knowing the choice he has made in his heart.

Episode 3 ‘A Fairy’ was the comic relief of the collection. To break a curse a fairy trapped in the body of a small girl must find someone who needs help. The fairy has to help this person with all her heart and only then will the curse be broken. But when everything seems to go wrong will the Fairy ever break the curse and marry her one true love?

Episode 4 (part 1) ‘A Heartless Princess, an Alchemist, and a Jester’ When an Alchemist wishes to marry a heartless Princess her one condition to accepting him is that he makes her smile. The Alchemist tries everything he can think of and eventually builds her a Jester. The Jester makes the Princess smile but soon she has moved on to other amusements at the Jester’s expense. When the Alchemist learns of the Princess’ cruelty he must make a choice between her and his doll. This is one is unfinished, an incentive as if you needed one, to pick up The Tarot Café volume two in which the episode is finished.

Sang-Sun Park’s artwork is stunning. Some of the most beautiful artwork of any manga I’ve seen, detailed and just gorgeous I would buy The Tarot Café based on artwork alone. The fact that the story lines are just as good as the art work is a bonus. Each episode has the feeling of a fairy tale with Pamela’s reality sandwiched between the stories but we don’t learn too much about our main character.

The Tarot Café has a little bit of everything. Romance, horror, and a ton of mystery. This is a great start to the series and I can understand why everyone seems to enjoy it so much. I’m looking forward to discovering Pamela’s dark past, something which is only hinted at in the first volume, and getting to know her future customers.


Kimberly Swan said...

I've never really read a graphic novel, but the artwork on the covers of so many is just amazing. This story sounds very entertaining. :)

Katie said...

They can be a lot of fun. Plus they don't take too long to read, an hour from start to finish tops.

T.C. said...

Hmmm...a graphic novel. I'm seeing a pattern here, Katie... :)

Katie said...

T.C. yeah... hehe. I went to the bookstore this weekend and picked a few up.

Yoga Gal said...

Great book , I must check it out. I read tarot cards, I never take money for my readings for it's a gift and it's bad karma to take money from someone's energy. have you ever read the book "Nightmare Alley" each chapter starts with a tarot card, great story!

Yoga Gal said...

Kimberly, I never read graphic novels until I discovered Neil Gaiman's great works of Sandman! Check it out!

Katie said...

Yoga Gal, I haven't read that one but I'll have to now.