Review by Ian Keogh
The pattern of Void’s Enigmatic Mansion is that each volume begins by concluding a story begun in the previous book, and so the opening pages are the romantic recollections of the older woman Mrs Pelburn, introduced in Volume III. She has a feeling she’s not long for the world, but fears for her children, two of which are hostile toward her, although her son at least goes through the motions of civility, and the other is dominated by an arrogant husband.
JiEun Ha’s stories are twisting, connected well and after the opening volume frequently surprise. We know far from everything has been revealed about some recurring characters, but there’s a phenomenal shock dropped about another, fitting into the series ethos of twisting Victoriana. This is a jaw-dropper, especially as adapter HeeEun Kim isn’t the best at supplying storytelling necessities, and has in previous books telegraphed what’s intended as a shock moment. Kim’s strengths and weaknesses are the same throughout the series, which cries out for the variety of a few establishing shots rather than stories being told almost exclusively via illustrations of people. If that’s no problem, there’s a beauty to the way they’re drawn, and the colouring, a little too vivid in earlier volumes, has settled into something also attractive.
Void’s Enigmatic Mansion has seven floors, and with Mrs Pelburn’s story satisfyingly complete, we move to the sixth floor and the oddly named Dr Juist. We’ve seen him before, a friend of the mysteriously haunted Lavelle, the man able to grant secretly a single wish to the mansion’s tenants. Through dropped hints and other circumstances Juist begins to wonder if this is true. There’s also a string of gruesome murders, the sequence of continuous violence the most obviously disturbing in the series to date.
While the surprise mentioned is good, it switches the series mood from one of melancholy yearning to something more common. Volume IV ends on a cliffhanger with a confrontation about to begin, and Volume V finishes the series.