Kieli is an isolated girl in a world where everything is controlled by the Church of a God she doesn’t believe in. Driving and complicating her views and life is her odd ability to see ghosts. But soon she will meet one of the legendary Undying, perfect soldiers from the last great war made from lost technology but of no further use to Church or State, and her world will change…
The Dead Sleep in the Wilderness is an excellent, melancholy story about two complex, compelling leads in a fascinating world. I was struck right away by the illustrations at the beginning. They’re gorgeous and give a very different feeling to Kieli than the manga art did. There’s a more subdued air to her here. I like this design just slightly better, but a more energetic feel to the character was the right choice for the short manga series. Not super important – just something I found interesting.
The prose gets off to a impressive, slick start as the prologue (Why isn’t God here?) establishes the atmosphere well and conveys a ton of information about both Kieli and her world in a few short pages. The momentum continues throughout the book. There’s great intensity and atmosphere maintained and the author’s pacing and general writing style makes it a smooth, gripping read. Kieli and Harvey are perfect leads, both likable yet three dimensional and flawed. The supporting cast (most notably Becca and the Corporal) are equally intriguing and contribute a lot to the story.
Another highlight is that the author is particularly great at knowing how to reveal that things didn’t quite mean what they first seemed to earlier in the narrative. It adds a ton of depth and enjoyment to the already intricately layered stories. The chapters are a mixture of an overarching plot and side stories that flesh out the characters. It all unfolds naturally and builds to a strong conclusion that finishes this story while setting up the series nicely.
As should be obvious I adored this first volume of Kieli. It’s right up with the Book Girl series as the best light novels I’ve ever read. Highly recommended.