Shadows House Volume 2 opens up Emilico’s world more, focusing less on Kate Shadow and Emilico’s interactions and more on the unfolding mystery of the Shadow’s family house. Created by Somato with translation by Taylor Engel and lettering by Lys Blakeslee, it all leads up to their debut. Where the first volume dragged some, the pacing in this volume is far better. With characters and mystery expanding, Shadows House Volume 2 continues the Victorian-esque tale of Shadow nobles and their living dolls. 

This Yen Press manga opens with Emilico meeting up with her group to learn more about different areas where living dolls work. I love when discoveries are due to natural conversation or story progression. It does not feel forced on the reader. So, each living doll is different in terms of talents and capabilities. Some can read, others like Emilico have to learn. 

Shadows House Volume 2 Shows Living Dolls More Animated Than Shadows

Emilico seems to have a later start than others. Still, she joins a group of living dolls, Rose, Lou, and Mia, who show her the ropes. As Shadows House introduces more characters, they make an impact with their distinct actions and behaviors. Barbie, the star-bearer, stands out a lot in her brief moments. One because you do not see her shadow, and two because she is a bully. 

Personality-wise, the new living doll additions have charisma. There is the shy Rum, who feels inconsequential and worthless that Emilico helps. Shaun feigns indifference but cares about those around him, especially bullied living dolls. Ricky’s conceited, with a snobbish air similar to his Shadow, and Lou is an enigma. Even next to their Shadows, most of the living dolls appear like the duo’s leader. 

Shadowy Secrets Lurking

Shadows House Volume 2 cover of Emilico and Kate mirroring each other's side profiles, holding hands.
Shadows House Volume 2 cover art.

Cleaning has a purpose beyond hygiene. I thought they had to clean because the soot gets everywhere, but that’s not all. When soot accumulates, they become phantoms, sentient beings that attack. How deadly they are is unclear, as enigmatic as the cloaked Noble Shadow that follows Emilico and the others on their patrol for the source of the phantom. But as this volume progresses, it is clear that Emilico, Shaun, and Rum—though considered no good—are fascinating to this Noble Shadow. 

It is apparent when they all attend the debut with their Shadows, even moreso with Emilico. The other Shadows criticize Kate because they named their living dolls based on their names—Lou’s the living doll for Louise, etc. Yet Emilico’s name has no connection to Kate. Still, there is worry, too, because the debut is a test to see if the living doll can be their Shadow’s face. Witnessing the differing dynamics between the pairs adds a range of emotions and leaves you anticipating later volumes. 

Though the first volume dragged, Shadows House Volume 2 gives much-needed expansion to the world and characters. Emilico’s animated antics shine alongside the varying personality she encounters. With the added mystery, the debut, and better pacing, compelling you to turn each page, Shadows House Volume 2 is where you go all in. You want to know about the world, the isolation, characters, and secrets. There’s more than the mysteries hinted at in the first volume to keep you invested. 

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