There is a secret library owned by the book-loving grandfather of Hugh “Huey” Anthony Disward. Huey inherits the mansion after his grandfather passes away, and upon exploring his vast collection of books, he meets a mysterious girl named Dalian. With a lock embedded in her chest, she is the gateway to the mystical “Bibliotheca Mystica de Dantalian” which holds the prohibited “Phantom Books.”
These “Phantom Books” should not exist in this world, as they contain knowledge about the demon world or forbidden rituals held by demons. Huey and Dalian set out to solve cases involving these “Phantom Books” using their ability to access the Dantalian library.
Dantalian no Shoka is a dark fantasy light novel series by Gakuto Mikumo and illustrated by G-Yuusuke. The series is composed of various short stories about Huey and Dalian’s involvement with cases regarding the “Phantom Books.” These tales are stand-alone chapters, able to be read in any order, and they focus on the characters who use the “Phantom Books” and supernatural powers the book holds. Unfortunately, our two main characters are left out in any development as a result of episodic-like structure of the novel.
Since the volume is composed of different stories, I’ll talk about them overall before describing some of the chapters. Huey and Dalian set out to deal with an issue they believe to be the work of a “Phantom Book”. They find the cause of the mystery and resolve it, either through peaceful means or aggressive ways. Each story introduces a specific character that is either directly involved with the case and their own problem ties into the book’s particular supernatural power. For example, Chapter 2 focuses on the Hurston twins, their issue about who becomes head of the household, and how the “Phantom Book” cursed them.
Dantalian no Shoka’s content isn’t specifically horror, but rather the series deals with some darker concepts. The first chapter of the volume tells a story about a gourmet and his quest to eat the finest foods, only to take a surprising twist by the end of it. I should also point out that while there are mystery elements in the light novel, the stories don’t play out like a typical murder case, or a “who did it!” type of scenario. In fact, there are some stories that give more of an eyeopener reaction rather than a shocking one.
Besides their first encounter with each other (told in Chapter 4), the series gives a brief introduction to the two main characters. Hugh Anthony Disward, aka Huey, is the new Keeper of the Bibliotheca Mystica de Dantalian. He is very kind and polite with the characters he interacts with and is very calm during tense situations.
Dalian is the gatekeeper of the Bibliotheca Mystica de Dantalian, and referred to as the “Black Biblioprincess” to others. She is very disrespectful and rude to people, including Huey, often insulting others with her sharp tongue. However, she loves sweet snacks, fried bread and books.
And that’s all I can tell you of these two characters. There isn’t much detail or backstory given to these two main protagonists, aside from the fact that they may have met in the past. In fact, some of the stories don’t even involve these two characters at all. In one particular chapter, a very similar duo to Huey and Dalian are the main protagonists in that story, and their special occupations leads us to have more questions about the series.
The illustrations were drawn by G-Yuusuke who also has done work on a visual novel Dies irae. His artstyle has a more older look to his designs along with texturing in the black and white illustrations. One thing I did mind a bit was Dalian’s eye size being a bit big in her drawings, most specifically the color illustrations.
Dantalian no Shoka is compilation of stories involving the “Phantom Books” which the content contain similar atmosphere and tone with each other. It’s like a part of a library dedicated to dark fantasy tales. Unfortunately, the series loses some value by not showcasing our main characters more, leaving a desire to know more about them.
As of this post, Dantalian no Shoka has only one complete volume translated and it can be found on Baka-Tsuki.
* – I finished this volume by reading a chapter at work on my break over a week. I don’t see any reason for time constraints to be a big reason why you shouldn’t read this.
Author: Gakuto Mikumo