Book Review | Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, SunNeko Lee, Crystal S. Chan, & Stacy King

Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, SunNeko Lee, Crystal S. Chan, & Stacy King

Published by Udon Entertainment on March 10, 2015

Genres: Fiction, Classic, Manga, Graphic Novel

Pages: 308

Format: eARC

Source: NetGalley

Goodreads★ 1/2

A powerful tale of forbidden love, shame, and revenge comes to life in Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter. Faithfully adapted by Crystal Chan from the original novel, this new edition features stunning artwork by SunNeko Lee (Manga Classics: Les Miserables) which will give old and new readers alike a fresh insight into the Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tragic saga of Puritan America.

Manga Classics editions feature classic stories, faithfully adapted and illustrated in manga style, and available in both hardcover and softcover editions.

Proudly presented by UDON Entertainment and Morpheus Publishing.


Graphic novels are all the rage in the book community right now, and I decided to test out the genre for myself with this manga edition of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I’ll be completely honest here. I was assigned The Scarlet Letter during my junior year of high school, and never finished it. I remember the writing being a bit complex at the time, and I also pitied Dimmesdale when my classmates (and teachers!) completely bashed him. I put the book down and haven’t looked back.

The idea of the Manga Classics series is thus very intriguing. I was able to finally find out how The Scarlet Letter ends, and I saw the story depicted in pictures to help me visualize it even better. While I cannot say how accurate this adaptation is to the original novel, I can say that it made me want to pick up The Scarlet Letter and actually give it a second chance. This manga was a super quick read, but one that was emotional and intriguing. I couldn’t put it down until I was done!

I am no art critic, but I did find the art very interesting in this book. The artwork is done completely in black and white with the exception of the scarlet letter, which is shown in red throughout the book. I thought that was a very smart decision – it really makes the ‘A’ stand out on Hester’s chest, and draws the reader’s eye towards it in every scene. I did find that some of the imagery didn’t fit in with the story’s tone or time period, but overall it was very well done and certainly added a lot to the reading experience.

I also thought it was great that this book included a guide on reading manga at the beginning for newbies like me. It did take a few pages for me to get used to reading right to left, but I soon got the hang of it. I also liked how the book concludes with some passages about the original novel, and how the authors made choices in this adaptation based on The Scarlet Letter’s history. Unfortunately, I couldn’t read these passages on the eARC version of the book (the print was small and blurry), but they look like a solid addition from what I could see.

All in all, I really enjoyed Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter. I think it would make a great companion to anyone studying The Scarlet Letter in school, or to anyone who is interested in reading classic literature but has a difficult time understanding it. I am definitely interested in picking up the original novel now, and want to check out more Manga Classics in the future. I highly recommend checking out this series!

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