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Dark Moon Diary: Volume 1    by Che Gilson & Brett Uher order for
Dark Moon Diary
by Che Gilson
Order:  USA  Can
TOKYOPOP, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Dark Moon Diary, written by Che Gilson and illustrated by Brett Uher, has that distinctly American manga style that sometimes causes hardcore manga fans to shy away. But if they do, they will sorely miss out on a rollercoaster ride of a high school comedy/horror/fantasy tale that will resonate loudly with American audiences.

After the tragic death of her parents, Pricilla is sent to the European town of Nachtwald to live with her mother's family. She is in for the shock of her life when she learns that her last living relatives are actually vampires. Though meaning well, her aunt and uncle have no clue how to feed a human. To make matters worse, her cousin Kitten is out to get her because she is an entrée. After the first few horrifying days of school, Pricilla learns that not all inhabitants of Nachtwald are undead - there are also witches and others who need to eat real food. Once fortified with fuel, Pricilla thinks that maybe Nachtwald will not be that bad – until Kitten goes too far in her retaliation against her unwanted guest.

The first volume of Dark Moon Diary starts off a tad fast and confusing, but eventually everything settles down and the background and relationships of all the characters become clear. After the first chapter, the story really gets rolling. Gilson's writing and Uher's artwork make the characters come to vivid life. Even though some them have the potential to be scary, Uher (using Gilson's character concepts) draws them cute and funny – even the bad guys have some endearing quality to them.

While the opening premise of the main character being orphaned is typical of Japenese manga, the rest is a fully American high school story. It has the new girl trying to fit in, the popular clique that wants her gone, and the random cute guys who hit on her to everyone's dismay. Uher's art also shows an all-American shojo style with bold outlines, minimal shading, and curvier (but not outrageously so) female characters.

Fans of American shojo will not want to miss out on Dark Moon Diary. It has everything that makes an Original English Language shojo manga great – relatable characters, a classic tale with a twist, and humorous writing. This is a manga that I have been anxiously awaiting since I first heard about it, and I was not disappointed.

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