The Weirn Books: Be Wary of The Silent Woods: A Fun and Charming Start

The Weirn Books: Be Wary of The Silent Woods
8/10
The Weirn Books: Be Wary of The Silent Woods is the first in a new series, and is funny and charming enough to continue for a while to come.

Award-winning Graphic Novelist Svetlana Chmokova is back in the fantasy world with The Weirn: Be Wary of The Woods. Chmokova has come a long way since she first burst into the world of graphic novels in the mid-2000s. She created the fantasy world of The Weirn in her Night School graphic novels in 2009, which introduced a universe where young witches, werewolves, and other magical children attend supernatural school.

The Weirn: Be Wary of The Woods Is A Fun Return to The Weirn World
The Weirn: Be Wary of The Woods cover from Yen Press

Where the Night School books were Young Adult and the art more reminiscent of manga, Be Wary of The Woods shifts to a younger, middle-school audience. Chmokova's art style has also evolved away from the overt manga look to a more natural style that assimilates both Japanese manga stylings with a Western cartoon illustration.

The story now follows a group of grade-schoolers as they try to unravel a mystery involving disappeared children.

Ailis is a Weirn, a witch born with a companion guardian spirit who attends the night school of her New England town with werewolves, mermaids, shapeshifters, and other supernatural children. She lives with her aunt while her parents are away and hangs out with Na'ya and her cousins. When Na'ya's little brother D'esh disappears, Aillis and Na'ya gather their friends to venture into the Silent Woods, where a forbidden mansion sits, a trap for children where a corrupted spirit and an evil Weirn woman lay in wait.

Chmokova's artwork and writing take on a lighter tone here as befits a middle-grade story. Aillis and her friends are all recognizable goofy, awkward, gawky, hyperactive kids that middle-school readers can identify with quickly. There's goofy kids comedy throughout the story and moments of pathos that kick in unflinchingly when the darker parts come. Themes of kids asserting themselves, conquering fear, and saving each other from evil through the power of friendship is a common and needed theme that Chmokova reiterates from manga, and that's what kids read these stories for. Another convention Chmokova brings in from manga is the back material after the end of the story, where the artist-creator writes and draws a little cartoon about her thoughts and process for creating the story. It's a way to welcome and engage readers in the creator's world that's often charming and endearing. The Weirn Books: Be Wary of The Silent Woods is the first in a new series, and is funny and charming enough to continue for a while to come.

The Weirn Books: Be Wary of The Silent Woods is out now.

 

About Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist who just likes to writer. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.

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