In 18th century England, Gabriel, an orphan girl from a fallen noble family befriended a young man named Jeremy, who was rumored to be an illegitimate child of a nobleman. After an incident occurred, Gabriel must impersonate her friend Jeremy, taking his place at an all boys academy for nobles, a place that may seem like heaven to others, but really hides a harshness which she would never have imagined.
Despite positive initial impressions, the dark ambience and uniquely dark tone can only take you so far with an ending that drops out of nowhere like a lead balloon (don't worry, I'll spare you the gory details - AKA spoilers). Disappointment? Yes. Raging fangirls? I count myself in their numbers. Grab your torch and pitchfork, because if you have stuck with this manhwa since the beginning, you probably have a bone to pick with Lee Hyeon-Sook considering the subpar ending that was delivered. But watch your step, there are plot holes everywhere.
With a plot that does not deliver, Savage Garden strangely starts off with some
promise. Initially we are introduced, just as the synopsis describes, to a school that, despite housing the well-to-do, has incredibly harsh hierarchy. Gabriel enters, impersonating her deceased childhood friend, and taking on the persona of “Jeremy.” Led by the promise of riches, “Jeremy” tries to lay low without invoking the wrath of some the more prominent – and cruel – noblemen that she dorms with.
As you can well predict, she inevitably lands herself in trouble and becomes tangled up with two brothers. The premise is a little misleading, however, because it eventually becomes a derailed train that crashes and burns.
In regards to the aforementioned plot holes, the author blatantly omits a lot of information in the latter half of the story, as we are suddenly thrust into the ending without any preparation. There is no leading up to it, no real resolutions in terms of the climax of the story. It just lands in our lap, incomplete and ill-conceived. My suspicions are that the author came to an impasse, with no motivation left for continuing, and decided to end prematurely. As a result, many questions were left unanswered and the ending left you wondering if you were still reading the same series.
The characters, who are both interesting and intriguing, are vaguely explored through the story. Once again, this is where the potential really shined through but inevitably fell short. Gabriel suddenly became the traditional damsel-in-distress whereas she had been a heroine with some measure of self-sufficiency in the beginning. Her desire to reclaim her pride from her status of fallen nobility, as a driving force, is far more realistic than the shallow reasons seen in other gender benders.
But, just as with Gabriel, the other characters either dropped out of the picture or were poorly utilized approaching the ending. Rather than feeling like real people, they felt like a means to an end – as though, rather than seeing through the story with the characters she had built and developed, the author used them as a tool to bring things to a close without considering the quality she was losing in doing so.
As for the art, it seems a bit more detailed and a step up from her previous works, which is definitely a positive. Among manhwa, her art stands out as well-proportioned and, in simple terms, very “pretty.” Even compared to many manga, Lee Hyeon-Sook has a very unique style that captivates. There is plenty of good eye candy.
So what is Savage Garden ultimately? A manhwa that initially stands out amongst its fellow creations but inevitably falls short as an underwhelming read with a disappointing ending. As much as it dispels age-old shoujo cliches, it wallows in its own depressing undertones and flickers out like an unnoticed flame.
One of the greatest pleasures in reading Savage Garden is the eerie and mysterious ambiance it gives. Compared to the other gender benders I've read, I personally find this really unique with its darker portrayal of such genre.
Artistically, I was captivated. The characters are pretty and the settings look peaceful. It was indeed the perfect combination with such an intriguing plot.
Setting aside the fact that this was a shoujo fantasy, I find the story quite original. We have messed up characters who are living in an era where there's plenty of political intrigues and where most of their fates were already decided - and
with this, our heroine (Gabriel) is no exception.
Since Gabriel an orphan from a fallen noble family, it was already long decided that she's to become a maid. But due to some twist of events, she ended up becoming a replacement for her friend (Jeremy) and entered an elite school for nobles. We find out later that Gabriel isn't only trying to cover up her guilt but also desired to live the illusion of being a noble. However, through Gabriel's perspective, we see that illusion crumble down. The place was nothing ideal and was actually filled with people who cared for nothing but their own greed.
Personally, I like Gabriel's inner strength. There is no guarantee that she will live by doing such a risk - yet, she still managed to show her inner person: spunky, selfless and kind-hearted. Her actions against the nobles' wrong doings is really admirable and therefore, I don't question why some of the guys were interested with her.
As for the romance - I think I'm part of the minority who likes the budding affection between Gabriel and Ray. Gabriel was drawn to Ray more than Euan because they're very similar. Both of them suffered a huge trauma from their past (which is for you to find out) and because of this, they can understand and sympathize with each other better.
(It doesn't mean that I didn't care about Euan though. In fact, he has the best character growth out of all the protagonists. But saying anything more about him will spoil the story.)
Since Gabriel and Ray were both living in the past, it makes sense that they don't have any future goals nor any motivations to work upon it. Certain factors were supposed to trigger them to change the way they live - and this, I think, is what the manhwa's originally trying to accomplish.
However, we didn't get to see any of that cause we arrive to a rushed and inconclusive ending. I don't really need answers to my questions but it would be nice if I get to see what have become of their lives after all that sufferings they went through.
Nevertheless, it's quite a surprise that we get a "not so tragic" ending from this artist + I really enjoyed reading this manhwa - so I'm still somewhat satisfied.
It took me a long time to finish this manhwa because I was dreading the day it would be over. The art is amazing, very korean style but beautiful. I'm very particular about the artwork of the manga I read, and if I don't like the art I usually don't even bother to read the manga.
So, it could be said that I was captivated by the art at first. For people like me, this manhwa is full of beautiful drawings, beautifully drawn characters and equally beautiful backgrounds. From the soft eyes of Jeremy/Gabriel, to the mere shoes she wore, it was all enchanting. Every
page made fueled my love for drawing and encouraged me to draw, draw and draw.
But if you're more interested in the story don't fear. It's well told. It may be confusing sometimes but it all clears in the end and that is what makes the story so good. The characters all have their unique personalities and they stick to it to the very end. Even when they're all grown up, you can still see the younger 'them'. It's beautiful.
In England, a female name Gabriel; an orphan girl from a fallen noble family becomes close friends with a young man named Jeremy, who is rumored to be an illegitimate child of a nobleman. Gabriel who is fated to be sold off to a nobleman as a maid servant, has a goal to becoming a nurse...Jeremy gets a letter from his nobleman parents saying they are coming to get him and send him to a prestigious school. Knowing this Jeremy is excited while Gabriel becomes jealous. A unforeseen accident occurs and Jeremy becomes ill...That night Gabriel watches over him. The next morning Gabriel wakes
to check on Jeremy finding him half way off the bed unconscious. Jeremy had died. The nobleman shows up at this time seeing the accident and shows no signs of grief nor guilt, but instead offering Gabriel a offer she is unable to resist. Now she find herself in a place that may seem like heaven to others, but really hides a harshness which she would never have imagined.
Around this plot another plot but connect takes place involving two brother (Raymond and Euan Kensington) sons of a very powerful duke who tries to blackmail the eldest son Euan for his own greed;. Euan, pisses off his father, he engages himself in sexual acts with not only fellow male students but also maid ( Yavonne - a cunning character) a at the school. He also harbors a deep secret he wants to keep from Raymond because he fears it may bring back tragic memories he may not be able to handle a second time.
This clever manga does have another cunning character named Angela. Her first appearance she is introduced as Raymond's fiance. She secretly likes Raymond brothe Euan. And the first change she gets she blackmails Euan into engaging her.Causing a ruckus and havig the engagement between her and Raymond broken up. She has an older brother named Will who is suffering from a incurable and irreversible disease that keeps him in a appearance as he was at age 10 that's slowly but rapidly taking his life away.
This manga is so thrilling i was smiling and staring without blinking at each page..at times there are confusing parts but its not hard to bypass and forget later. This I recommend for people who are into suspense, thrillers,and mystery readers.