Pandora Hearts Volume 1 (Manga)
Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: December 2009
Price: $10.99
Creator: Jun Mochizuki
Format: 192 pgs.; B&W
ISBN: 978-0-31607-607-4
Age Rating: Young Adult
ICv2 Rating: 3 Stars out of 5

On the day of his coming-of-age celebration, 15-year-old Oz Vessalius hears strange music that lures him into a nightmarish Wonderland called the Abyss, an alternate dimensional prison populated by chains--organisms raised in the abyss.  Alice is the most powerful chain of all, and she plans to use Oz as her means of escape into the real world in order to find her lost memories.  But once she and Oz return to reality, they find they've become pawns in a much bigger game.

Like CLAMP's xxxHOLiC, Pandora Hearts is a quest to recover a girl's memories, but done within the horror genre rather than as an adventure story.  The first few chapters are confusing, as the set-up for the story
happens swiftly and with little explanation.  But by the end of the volume the major players have been introduced, the ground rules have been set in place, and the story has direction.  The art is pretty without being overtly shojoey and will appeal to readers looking for drama as well as those looking for bishonen.  Even with its rough start, the series shows potential and most readers will be intrigued enough to pick up volume two.

--Eva Volin: Supervising Children's Librarian for the Alameda Free Library in California.