7 Rated Books Book Reviews Smuggler Specialties YA Appreciation Month

Manga Review: Wicked Lovely – Desert Tales, vol.1, Sanctuary by Melissa Marr and Xian Nu Studio

Title: Wicked Lovely – Desert Tales, vol.1, Sanctuary

Author: Melissa Marr (writer) and Xian Nu Studio (illustrator)

Genre: Manga/Young Adult (Fantasy)

Publisher: HarperCollins
Publishing Date: April 21, 2009
Paperback: 176 pages

Stand Alone or series: Volume one of a 3 volume series

Why did I read the book:Melissa Marr is one of my favourite writers and I love her Wicked Lovely series so it was no-brainer that I would be reading this .

Summary: The desert is far away from the schemes of the Faerie Courts—and that’s how Rika likes it. Once a mortal and now a faery, Rika seeks isolation and revels in her ability to appear invisible to humans. Then, she meets him. Artistic and kind, Jayce is the last person Rika wants to hide from.

But change is coming, challenging Rika’s freedom and her new romance, as her past pursues her, even into the heart of the desert. . . .


Desert Tales – Sanctuary is the first in a 3 volume series of Manga , set in the Wicked Lovely world. It follows Rika, a former Winter Girl, now a Solitary Fey living in the desert. She is independent from any of the Courts and lives a non-eventful life. At the moment, her main interest lies in observing an artistic human boy, Jayce, who comes to the desert for walks and to paint. She carries a torch for the guy but being fey complicates matters and she remains invisible when around him.

But the desert, and the desert fey that inhabit it ,are not unconnected as Rika would hope. The story proves to be not entirely separate from the main events taking place in the main Courts – and this is evidenced when Keenan, the Summer King shows up. With the complicated politics and unstable dynamics of the Summer Court and the Winter Court , Keenan is out to offer protection (and at the same time, gain allies) to the Solitary Fey. There are hard feelings between Keenan and Rika (as it should be) and she refuses to have any connection with the guy. But merely by showing up at the desert the King attracts the attention of the desert fey towards Rika and towards Jayce. And we all know how the fey can be vicious creatures and that propels Rika to become visible in order to protect Jayce and that starts a relationship with him– at the same time that she tries to keep the fey at bay. On top of that, there is Rika’s complex bond with another fey called Sionnach, a guy who seems to have an agenda of his own.

For such a short story there is quite a lot going on here but it could not be different with a writer such as Melissa Marr – there is both what is said and shown and is left unsaid.

Like, the appropriateness of having Rika choosing to live in the desert of all places after being consumed with the winter chill as a previous Winter Girl. Or the pain of what it means to become the Winter Girl – that would only happen to someone that really loved Keenan and if you follow the series, you should know by now how that inevitably ends: in heartbreak and isolation (the bastard). And to have Rika choosing yet again on a path that is far away from being simple as it is far away from being easy. I honestly want to know what happens next and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t completely puzzled by Sionnach.

Plus, the choice alone to follow a former Winter Girl and see what happens to one of these poor girls is poignant in itself and a way of expanding the Wicked Lovely world without necessarily moving the attention from the threads of the main events.

And what better medium to experiment than Manga? I am a fan of the format and I thought the art here to be lovely– in what proved to be a perfect balance of format and content. I loved it and recommend it to fans of the series.

Notable Quotes/ Parts: Rika and Keenan’s reunion and the way he leaves – so typical, I really can’t stand the guy.

If you want to have a look at the art and the first pages, they are available with the “LOOK INSIDE” feature at the Harper Collins’ website:

Additional Thoughts: Stick around, as later today Melissa Marr will be talking about writing the Manga and giving a fantastic insight n the whole process from choosing an artist to perfecting the text. Plus, we will be offering a giveaway of the first book in the Wicked Lovely series.

Verdict: A fantastic addition to the Wicked Lovely world with stunning art and the usual engaging writing by the writer.

Rating: 7 – Very Good

Reading Next: Eternal Kiss, anthology.


  • Wendy
    July 21, 2009 at 2:38 am

    I’ve never any manga but this one sounds good, I liked Wicked Lovely, the book.

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  • I Heart Book Gossip
    July 21, 2009 at 4:05 am

    OMGsh! I can’t wait for Melissa Marr to stop by. Please count me in for giveaway if I don’t make it back in time.

  • Rob Charron
    July 21, 2009 at 7:41 am

    Hi 🙂
    I hadn’t heard Melissa Marr was having Wicked Lovely in Manga. It looks amazing.
    Thank you for a terrific review.
    I especially liked: “there is what is said and shown and is left unsaid.”
    Love from Northern Ontario

  • Kati
    July 21, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Ana – I just finished Fragile Eternity this week. It’s still lingering with me. It’s interesting, I agree, Keenan is a bastard, but I’m just SO confident that he’s going to get what’s coming to him, I don’t seem to have the virulent dislike for him you do.

    I’m really looking forward to Aislinn kicking his ass. At least, I hope she does. This sounds really interesting.

    Stupid question – this is a book right? I’m going to find it in the Manga section of the bookstore? 😳 I know that’s a silly question, but I honestly don’t know.

  • Ana
    July 21, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Kati – I hope she kicks his ass too. And you know me, when I hate a character, I really DO hate a character 😆

    So, the Manga looks like a book, it is just like a paperback. Inside it has panels like a comic book. check back our other post today and you will see what I mean. Or browse inside. 😀 But yeah, it’s a book.

  • Collette
    July 21, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    This looks amazing. Thanks for sharing the process with us–quite fascinating. (I didn’t comment on the other post since I’ve already read–and adored–Wicked Lovely.)

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  • Ky
    May 22, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    I just read the Vol. 1 and I have to say I adored it. I’m severely depressed to know that it’s only 3 volumes! How unfair is that?! Plus their short! I read it in about an hour! 🙁 Oh well I’ll still enjoy them. Lolz.

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