After a few negative experiences with some Original English Language (OEL) manga style inspired series I wrote them all off for years. I went out of my way to avoid anything that didn’t come from Japan, although without realizing it I was reading Manhwa (Korean) while thinking it was Manga (Japanese). So Iwasn’t quite the Japanese manga snob I thought I was 😉 I subscribed to Yen Plus and Nightschool was in it…so I read it with low expectations…and loved it. I became more open minded about OEL series after that and found a few other OEL series that I greatly enjoyed (ex: Dramacon and Yokaiden). So when I saw that Tokyopop had a well received OEL horror series that they even bothered to put into an omnibus form! Well I was on board to try it out! I love horror!
Twins Jeanie and Amber are sent to an elite boarding school in the middle of the wilderness in Australia. Their aunt pulls some strings to get them accepted, but warns them to never reveal that they’re twins. The school has a mysterious/dangerous history and the headmistress considers twins to be a particularly bad omen. Now that they’re at their new school, the two keep having similar nightmares about the school’s deathly history. And now students are disappearing into the wilderness at night…
Ok so…I debated writing anything on this series at all because I feel uncomfortable writing negative views on OEL series. The authors of these series are fans like me, but they had more drive in their youth to try and become a part of something they loved where the odds were REALLY stacked against them. Basically they’re wonderfully dream oriented individuals with many qualities that I lack. I admire their spirit and perseverance…but the end results of their hard work don’t always sync up with my tastes. And it’s disrespectful for me to treat them any differently than a Japanese manga-ka in a review. Besides Queenie Chan is doing wonderfully with her career, it shouldn’t matter to her that I didn’t end up liking her debut series. This is a situation where a plot had a lot of what I usually look for in an entertaining tale…but I didn’t feel as pulled in by the story as I was hoping for. I found the characters hard to care for and sympathize with. I didn’t sense much personality from any of them, and their interactions seemed too straight forward and almost had a rehearsed feeling at times.
The revealed secrets of this mysterious plot seems to tie together awkwardly. There were some scenes that seemed unnecessary, and there were places where I felt an extra scene should have occurred to explain some plot points. There were often situations where another character casually says something relevant to unraveling the mystery at hand, but when it’s spoken it feels too much like a LARGE red hint flag is waving over their heads as they relay their information. Basically it never really felt like I turned a corner and felt surprised at what was there. I also REALLY disliked the last (extra) chapter, it added on nothing of interest and cheapened the main story.
With regard to the art style, at times I REALLY like the ornate details put into certain objects/scenery. I also really like a lot of the elegant scenery within the school. The artist pays particular attention to the gowns of the noble women, some of the gown styles are quite unique. I also like the chosen vintage hair styles on some of the characters (see the image below). But at other times I’m completely turned off by how a character’s facial expression and body poses are drawn. It seemed that usually the more secondary characters that are just simply classmates aren’t drawn with as much care. There was one casual female classmate that had a face that was drawn in a way that made me shiver more than any of the actual horrors within the school.
I don’t recommend this series, there are many more surprising horror stories out there. BUT that’s JUST my opinion, I’m positive there are people out there that really enjoyed this series and you might be one of them. After all, there were still aspects about The Dreaming that I liked even if in the end I didn’t care for it as a whole. If you’re going to read this series I HIGHLY recommend that you get the omnibus volume (or all 3 single volumes at one time) and read it in only a few sittings. If I had read this in three separate volumes over time, I’m sure my confusion about the plot typing together would only have been escalated.