Book Review: “The Voynich Hotel, Volume 1” by Douman Seiman

Warning: This book review contains spoilers for “The Voynich Hotel, Volume 1” by Douman Seiman. If you’re trying to avoid spoilers, go find another book review!

Cover of "The Voynich Hotel" by Douman Seiman.
Cover of “The Voynich Hotel” by Douman Seiman.

I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing “The Voynich Hotel, Volume 1” by Douman Seiman! It’s been a while since I read anything hotel-related, and it IS close to Halloween, so I thought this would be the perfect time to read and review something that involves both those things! Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:

“After a series of tragic events, Taizou decides to make a break with his past and go on a vacation to the tiny island nation of Blefusco. Little does he know that his hotel is a hot spot for contract killers, drug dealers, ghosts, and a coven of immortal witches. So much for rest and relaxation…”

Content Warnings: 

This book does contain a LOT of violence, death, and somewhat-graphic gore. There is also a lot of sexual content (both visually and discussed) in this manga despite its “teen” rating on the back of the book. I wouldn’t recommend this series for anyone younger than an older teenager at minimum. If you are uncomfortable with this kind of content in general, you may want to skip reading this one.

Worldbuilding Development: 3 out of 5 stars

I thought that the worldbuilding had some interesting concepts. The supernatural beings that exist in this hotel, as well as the surrounding island and its given history, was very interesting. It’s set in the background of a war that is, despite the hotel being open to guests, still going on to an extent due to the involvement of the mafia and other supernatural beings. The worldbuilding struggles with meshing the real-life mafia and drug dealers together with the coven of witches, but I wonder if the next volumes will somehow make it all click together. 

Plot Development: 3 out of 5 stars

I liked the concept of the entire manga as presented in the summary. It’s very dark, though the comedic moments and Taizou and Helena’s relationship do help carry the story along. Some readers might not enjoy the non-linear aspect of the story, however. Within one ‘chapter’ of the manga, the story could have up to three separate plotlines running at once, appearing in and out throughout the chapter, and not all of them necessarily mix in with each other. I am interested in the overarching plotlines of Taizou and Helena’s shared friendship/potential romance arc, as well as the odd war going on on the island, and I’m sure the future volumes will expand on these plotlines.

Character Development: 2.5 out of 5 stars

My favourite two characters were Taizou and Helena. They shared a fleshed out plotline through getting to know each other and learn about each other throughout this volume. I especially love how they have some potentially-romantic bonding going on close to the end of the book. These two are also likely the most “normal” characters in this volume. 

The rest of the characters were very quirky and enjoyable to read. However, their development was borderline flat. They feel like they are just present to show how weird the hotel and the surrounding island is. This could be due to this manga being the first volume in the series. It’s introducing the reader to the worldbuilding and story of this series, which might explain the lack of character development. I hope that future volumes expand more on this already-increasing number of characters. 

Overall, I’m rating this book 3 out of 5 stars!

I think this series will develop more of its plotlines and characters in future volumes. If you’re interested in the supernatural mixed with more modern clashes, this might be worth reading!

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