There will be spoilers for the manhwa series Bride of Elysion.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to sexual assault, theft, bullying, and violence, as it appears in the manhwa.
Ina Yoo is just going about her day on Earth when she faints and wakes up to find herself in a cage with other women, who all seem to be from different places. None of them seem to know what's happening or where they are. They are carted off to a stage where many masked men overlook them. Ina Yoon is terrified, as expected. While standing in the middle of the stage, she catches the eye of a gentleman in a cat mask. Before she can ascertain his identity, she is chosen and suddenly flies up to a higher balcony. Once there, she is introduced to a gentleman named Aivan. He has decided to be her supporter.
However, the gentleman in the cat mask, Asbell, comes to take her for himself. The two men get into an argument; all the while, Ina is stuck in the middle, only growing more lost and confused by the second. Finally, the two men ask her to choose between them. When pressed, Ina selects Aivan. Aivan then takes her back to his mansion, where he explains that she has been summoned to the world of Elysion, a world where only men are born. As a result, they have to summon women from other worlds. Once the women make it over, they are praised and worshipped by the men, taught how to live in Elysion, and allowed to marry and take on as many men as they see fit.
In exchange, the women help produce mana, magical energy, which can only be done through a “mana exchange” with their boyfriends. It's a lot t take in, but Ina doesn't take long to catch on with all the beautiful men around. It's not all sexy time and butterflies, though, as the drama between her suitors and even other women crops up, but Ina's not going to let that get in her way. She will follow her heart and do everything she wants in this new world.
Let me go ahead and get this out of the way: all the men are attractive, like super attractive. I loved each one that Ina Yoo ended up with. They are all well-designed, and as usual, they are all my type (though Aevan/Aivan might edge out as my favorite – long hair just does something for me). Of course, everyone will have their preference, but I think there is a little something for everyone in the mix. The art style is not the greatest. I wouldn't say it is ugly by any means, but it isn't the prettiest in the world. It has beautiful moments, but it reminds me a bit of manhua art, which I personally feel isn't always the best. It feels a bit flat, stiff, and awkward sometimes, but it is not ugly by any means. I also have to mention the men's body proportions get way exaggerated as it goes on to the point that at the end, they look like upside-down triangles with legs, but they have pretty faces, so who cares?
The worst part about this one is the ending. Ina has all of her husbands and announces a pregnancy with Karl, which is excellent, but then it just ends… We didn't get any side stories or additional info on the child, which was disappointing. I really would have liked to have seen more with the pregnancy, the child, and even if she has more children with the other husbands, but we don't get any of that. It makes it even more disappointing because they go into a lot of detail on how pregnancy occurs (with eggs, rather than a traditional pregnancy), such as how the father can be identified by the color of the egg and the mana it releases. All of that builds it up as if we will see a lot of this. For there to be worldbuilding on pregnancy and how it works only for us not to see much of it is rather disappointing and feels like a waste.
This is also one of those stories where there really isn't any overarching plot other than Ina just learning about her new world. We are presented with a setting, and then things happen to Ina intermittently. It sometimes feels like there is no direction, and everything is random with no end goal. That probably didn't help the issue I had with the ending, now that I think about it. Again, it feels random and unfinished. There are so many world details that are never explored or explained, and it often feels like we are speedrunning through a fantasy novel, making it hard to make sense of any of it.
I mean, ultimately, though, this is a power fantasy for women. Women rule the world and are allowed all the husbands they could want. It's hard for me to critique this when I know it was never meant to be more than a sexy romp at its core. However, for the amount of worldbuilding that went into it, I wish there had been more exploration or some overarching plot that would give this story a bit more meat. On the flip side, since there isn't all that much in the way of story, I wish they had just gone full pornhwa with it instead. Call me depraved, but if we are going to do a superficial power fantasy for women, we might as well show everything. Unfortunately, though, this isn't a pornhwa. There is sexual content, but it's vague and never explicitly shown.
Finally, this needed some quality control. Names are constantly misspelled, which is why I mentioned Aivan/Aevan earlier in the review; quotation marks are used in places where apostrophes should be, and the dialogue sometimes feels stilted or just doesn't make sense, words are misspelled, etc. I am not sure how much is the fault of the story itself or how much is due to translation issues, but it's rough. If you want a quality translation, this isn't it.
Overall, this is a poor showing for the reverse harem genre. It has a ton of potential, but much of that is wasted due to a lack of story direction and the lack of explicit sexy time. If it had more in the way of story, it would've been so much better. If it had been more of a pornhwa and not tried to be story-focused, a lot of the poor story could have been forgiven because of the good time. Unfortunately, this has neither and, as a result, is not worth the read, in my opinion. Pretty men can only make up for so much.
Have you read Bride of Elysion? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!