Welcome to the world of The Earl and the Fairy, Vol. 3-4, an alternate Victorian England where fairies are real, but only fairy doctors can see them. This is a manga adaption by Ayuko of the Japanese novel of the same name by Mizue Tani. The review of volumes 1 and 2 is here.
Edgar J.C Ashenbert, the new Blue Knight Earl, announces to the royal court that Lydia Carlton is his fairy doctor and advisor without consulting her, thus forcing Lydia to follow him to London. In this story arc, the Fogman steals English children in the night, Edgar is up to something again, and the lovely Doris Walpole & repulsively selfish Rosalie are introduced, both of whom? have a mysterious connection to Edgar.
Lydia struggles with her attraction to the secretive and attractive Edgar, constantly feeling he is manipulating her while romancing other women. Meanwhile, Doris Walpole has been taken by the Fogman and Lydia’s first case as a London fairy doctor is to find her. The tragedy is that Edgar has feelings for Lydia, but his plans keep getting in the way.
Pacing in The Earl and the Fairy, Vol. 3-4 is much better than the previous two. There is a good balance between character and plot development. The artwork by Ayuko is busier, which is natural since the story takes place in the city amidst the hustle and bustle of high society, but still beautifully rendered.
The world building, however, is fantastic. I especially enjoyed the legend of the fairy eggs, which are glass stones said to contain a trapped fairy. The egg is placed on top of a fortune telling (Oiuja) board, the seekers place fingers on a coin, and the fairy moves the coin to spell answers to questions. The game is a variation of the Japanese game, Kokkuri San. In the real world there are no legends of glass fairy eggs in England that I could find, but there are water filled agate stones of interest to crystal healers. The author, Mizue Tani, has done a wonderful job of taking disparate elements from England & Japan and weaving them into her world’s traditions.
I also found the scene where Lydia tried to trap the hobgoblin’s soul into a bottle, but ended up being trapped inside it instead, very creative. Her empty shell of a body was given to slavers, and Edgar became quite fierce with desperation to rescue her. This inventive scene allowed Edgar to cradle the bottle protectively until her soul was reunited with her body. Even Lydia’s stubbornness had to acknowledge that act of compassion in the end.
The Earl and the Fairy, Vol. 3-4 ended with the slaver and Fogman mysteries being solved, and most especially the issues of Edgar’s childhood being resolved. Lydia & Edgar’s relationship was left in a state of warm friction. I had the feeling that their adventures continued on, but in a very positive direction. From mermaids and cities under the sea to child abduction, urban legends, and slavery, Tani & Ayuko created a wonderful fantasy series that fantasy manga fans are sure to enjoy.
Release Date: September 4, 2012 / December 4, 2012 (USA)
ISBNs: vol.3 142154170X (9781421541709)
vol.4 1421541718 (9781421541716)
Publisher: Viz Media
Original Title: 伯爵と妖精 (Hakushaku to Yōsei)
Language: 1 (minor expletives)
Violence: 1 (knife fights, other fisticuffs)