Written by M Alice LeGrow as part of a Tokyopop competition 'Rising Stars of Manga' to find a new author. Bizenghast is her first series and the characters developed from sketches she did as part of art projects. It falls into the Drama/Horror category of Tokyopop's publications and has a very 'gothic Lolita' feel.
We follow the journey of a teenager called Dinah, who after tragically losing her parents in a car crash at the age of eight was sent to live with her aunt Jane Addison, who inherited a large property in the town of Bizenghast , Massachusetts. This property used to be a 'state reform school' but burnt down, losing seven pupils and a teacher in the process. This of course would have no bearing on our story except Dinah can see ghosts. This of course worries her aunt and a local psychiatrist, who wishes to send her away to a mental hospital. What will she do when the only person that believes her is the person who confronts the ghosts with her?
After sneaking out with her friend Vincent they stumble upon a sunken mausoleum, something that seems to mysteriously disappear at its own free will! And Dinah indivertibly presses a button which 'signs' an agreement to hand over her body and soul! This causes a fearful creature to come out and explain to Dinah that she has just agreed to help solve riddles left by ghosts to enable them to pass on out of this world. Will she succeed? Or will they be forced to remove her from her body and soul?
I have rather enjoyed the storyline (it's deliciously dark), and the illustrations are generally very well done (with lovely depictions of slightly sinister looking characters and scenery), but I find the consistency to be a bit of an issue, some pages look like the artist put a lot less effort in it (however this is perfectly understandable considering this was not only her first publication but also being published was a competition for amateurs). I do feel this is one aspect that could have been improved.
I would defiantly recommend this book to anyone inclined towards 'gothic' artwork and ideals as I find the story and images encompass this.