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Valentine’s Day Manhwa Pick: Villains Are Destined to Die Vol. 1

1 Feb

Isekai manga and light novels have exploded within the last year or so. In almost every genre now, you can find stories where the protagonist is transported to another world through various means and circumstances. High among the isekai boom has been within the shojo category (comics geared towards a female audience) under what is becoming known as “Villainess Isekai” in which the protagonist finds themselves in the role of a ‘villainess’ from an otome game (game involving a romantic story arc) and they must use their wits and knowledge of the game to avoid a deadly ending.

One such example of this is the manhwa (Korean comic), Villains Are Destined to Die by Gwon Gyeoeul and SUOL. Starting as a popular webcomic on Tapas, it has only grown in popularity due to the Villainess Isekai boom. 

With just a few glances at the pages alone, it’s easy to see why readers have taken so quickly to this story. The art by SUOL is gorgeous, every page filled with eye-catching art of the characters and the setting of the world. 

The story itself follows the above mentioned pattern, a girl wakes up in the world of an otome game and finds herself in the role of the villainess, Penelope Eckhart, whose route also happens to be the most difficult in the game. One of the takes on this plot that  makes it more unique is that our protagonist actually empathized with the villainess due to her own circumstances in the real world and thus she wanted to see the character find happiness.

Volume one does a remarkable job of setting up the stakes for the characters and the plot, introducing us to the characters of the story and the game within the world of the manhwa. Penelope is shown to be quite the sympathetic character, but the actions that made her a villainess to begin with are actually acknowledged within the story rather than just having her actions be misunderstood like you might find in some variants of Villainess Isekai.

One of the other interesting parallels is in regards to the girl who awakens as the villainess is that her own past is actually mentioned quite frequently. Other versions may have a brief flashback to their former life, but for the case of the protagonist who becomes Penelope, we get tidbits of her backstory that connects her to the villainess and that there are hints of a mystery regarding her family from that life.

The other interesting take we see is that she is determined to escape the world of the game and go back into her reality. More often than not, the usual take on this genre is that the protagonist died before awakening in the game world. 

For those seeking to dip their toes into the Villainess Isekai genre or for anyone curious about this manhwa, Villains Are Destined to Die Vol. 1  is an engaging and fun read that holds much promise for future volumes.

Written By:
Lauren Lapinski
Information and Digital Services Assistant

Like a Blanket on a Chilly Day: Legends & Lattes

23 Nov

Cozy stories are something that have been around for quite some time, Agatha Christie pioneered the cozy mystery genre with her work. For some time, it was often the mystery genre that was usually associated with the concept of a cozy story, many of them featuring covers with cats, dogs, quilts, cookies, and other such things associated with being comfy. Lately, however, other genres have begun to take on this subgenre and one of the books leading the cinnamon scented charge is  Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree.

Leading our cast of characters is Viv, an orgeress and warrior who decides to retire from her life in adventuring and open a coffee shop in the hopes of living out the rest of her days in quiet contentment, carrying with her a mysterious stone said to bring luck and fortune to whoever holds it. Through her we meet the rest of the cast and her journey bringing her coffee shop to life.

Baldree’s writing is as charming as it is whimsical, keeping each chapter interesting while still working at a pace that goes with the vibe the novel sets. It’s a dash of slice-of-life, but still with all the hallmarks of a fantasy novel that may remind some of the old fantasy cartoons of old. 

The characters also add their own flare and spice to the story, from the timid mouse Thimble to the spirited Tandry, they all add to the overarching plot and stakes (albeit very low stakes) of this book. Each one is interesting without disrupting the mellow vibe of the book and yes, this book does have its villain and mischief makers.  The descriptions of the food and beverages served at the title’s namesake cafe will leave you wishing Thimble would write a cookbook with all of the delectable goodies that he bakes throughout the story.

The warmth and charm of this book is one that will leave you craving coffee and cinnamon rolls while still providing you a comforting sense of adventure that feels very much like a blanket on a chilly winter day.

Written by:
Lauren Lapinski
Information and Digital Services Assistant

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