Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter
by Stacy King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Scarlet Letter (Manga Classics) / 978-1927925331
I've been a fan of Hawthorne since college, but I'll be the first to admit that his prose can be pretty heavy to wade through in parts. I've been wanting to re-read Scarlet Letter for years but it's just not something that I can sink easily into after a long day. So when a review copy of this book came available on NetGalley, I snapped it up as fast as I could, and ended up reading it in a single sitting that day.
First of all, the artwork in this manga is gorgeous. The book is fully black-and-white (which is my one complaint; the color cover is just stunning) and the rendering of the faces is incredible and evocative. Each character is rendered uniquely and is recognizable to me, which is always a big plus for graphic novels. The scenery shots, too, are gorgeous and there is no skimping on detail. Seriously, I would recommend picking this up based on the art alone.
Regarding the adaptation of the story: I love it. I haven't read Scarlet Letter in years, so there might be some details that I've missed, but this feels like a very faithful adaptation of the original. In some ways I almost like this adaptation better; I found Pearl and Dimmesdale to both be much more sympathetic here than I did in Hawthorne's novel, I think in part because of the emotive expressions rendered through the artwork. When Pearl is throwing flowers at the badge, for instance, she genuinely looks like a small child playing a game rather than a fae creature tormenting her mother (as Hawthorne was sometimes wont to render her). The added visualization made the story feel more real.
My only other real criticism of this is that I wish the publisher would make a kindle version; other manga series have done well in electronic form, so why not these? I hope they expand that as an option in the future.
NOTE: This review is based on a free electronic Advance Review Copy of this book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.
~ Ana Mardoll