When twin sisters Amber and Jeanie are accepted into an exclusive Australian boarding school, their future looks bright. But the school's halls harbor a terrible secret: students have been known to wander into the surrounding bushlands and vanish...without a trace! No one knows where they went--or why. But as Amber and Jeanie are about to learn, the key to the school's dark past may lie in the world of their dreams...I am by no means an expert on art but, to me, the art style was nice and added to the story. (People wanting to judge for themselves can see examples on Chan's website and this Asia Education Foundation page.) Especially some of the creepier images (pages? scenes?) definitely added to the vibe of the story. Especially the ones that sort of jumped out at me.
As for the story, this is Volume 1 of 3 so it was only the first part of the story, the set up for the overall story arc. The story is narrated from Jeanie's point of view and begins with the girls arriving at their new school, very isolated in the Middle of Nowhere, NSW. It's a co-ed school, which I thought was odd, especially since there's only one boy who appears briefly in this volume. (But presumably he or some other boy will be back at some point in Volumes 2 or 3, otherwise I don't see why it wouldn't just be a girls' school. This was the only thing that bothered me.)
The horror set-up in this volume includes a terrifying vice principal with a strong aversion to twins — to the extent that the girls have to pretend to be ordinary siblings born a year apart — a mysterious room, girls historically disappearing in the bush, and strange dreams. And, as I began to suspect once I was about half-way through, it ended on a bit of a cliffhanger. I suspect reading the omnibus version of this would be better, but Volume 1 was all that the bookshop had. I've discovered that the paper versions are non-trivial to get a hold of outside of the US (shipping costs more than the book/s), but I will be buying the remaining volumes on the iPad via Comixology, so stay tuned!
Not strictly part of the story, but the "Introducing Australia" page at the end was comedy gold.
I enjoyed this start to a horror story. I am definitely going to read the remaining two parts, because, as I've said, the story is just not complete. I highly recommend it to fans of horror and manga, especially readers interesting in either in an Australian setting. I'm not usually much of a fan of comics (longer than webcomics, anyway) or graphic novels because I prefer words to pictures and experience existential angst over which I should be paying attention to, but this worked for me. I would urge others who don't usually read manga to give it a shot (and it's not as though it's a long read).
4.5 / 5 stars
First published: 2005, TokyoPop
Series: The Dreaming Volume 1 of 3 (one continuous story)
Format read: Paper!
Source: Robinsons Bookshop (bricks and mortar, well... wood and... glass?)
Challenges: Aussie Horror Reading Challenge, Australian Women Writers Challenge