I’m so pleased to see Svetlana Chmakova returning the world of The Weirn Books in this new series. I really enjoyed Nightschool and, while this isn’t a direct sequel, it’s great to see those adorable astrals getting up to mischief again!
Weirns are witches who are born bonded to an astral, an powerful spirit that will act as the witch’s companion and protector. Cousins, Ailis and Na’ya are young weirns who attend a special magic school at night in order to train their astrals and learn how to use their powers. Too bad they’re constantly messing up and have been dubbed “The Loser Cousins” by their former friend turned enemy, the lovely and popular Patricia. Their lack of social cred soon becomes the least of their worries, however, when they spot a strange creature lurking in the woods by the old, abandoned school house – the one that they’d been warned to avoid by their grandmother. The girls discover that a terrible tragedy once occurred at that school house and, when Patricia starts behaving oddly at school, it becomes clear that something is threatening the children of the town once again!
Be Wary of the Silent Woods is an exciting supernatural mystery, with just the right mix of creepy atmosphere, enticing secrets and thrilling adventure. As Ailis and Na’ya discover what really happened at the school house, they also uncover some shocking information about their own family that makes it clear why their grandmother had wanted them to stay away from the old school house. Some of the twists and turns that the story took were a tad obvious, but I still found the reveals to be satisfying. The girl’s friendly banter and sassy jokes kept the mood from ever getting too dark and the story is more spooky then truly scary, making this an excellent comic for middle grade readers.
While I was a little disappointed that none of the characters from the Nightschool series made an appearance in this book, Ailis and Na’ya are a fun pair of heroines, with Na’ya’s being the more outspoken and quirky of the two and Ailis being a bit more cheerful. They’re joined in their adventure by Ailis’ awkward neighbour, Jasper, Na’ya’s hyper little brother, D’esh, and Russ, the slightly older werewolf boy who Ailis has a crush on. Not all of these characters get a ton of development, but they all had moments to shine during the dramatic climax and it was nice to see everyone get their own little hero moment. Patricia, the queen bee who bullies Ailis and Na’ya at school, turned out to be a more interesting and nuanced character then I was expecting and I’m looking forward to finding out more about her in subsequent books. It’s Na’ya and Ailis’ grandmother who really steals the show, however. She’s a crabby, tough-as-nails old biddy, who isn’t too past her prime to step into the fray when things get dicey for the kids. I love me a bad-ass older lady, of which Grandma Julia is a prime example, and I absolutely adored her!
The art in Be Wary of the Silent Woods is close to the style that Svetlana Chmakova used in her Berrybrook Middle School series – meaning that this comic is in full colour! I enjoy Chmakova’s earlier art style, but I confess that I find the simpler style she’s used in her more recent works very appealing. I love the soft colour palette and how expressive her characters are! Plus the astrals remain just as loveable as ever, with each of the little monsters sporting a unique design.
Be Wary of the Silent Woods is an entertaining and magical comic that’s perfect for children who love fantasy and supernatural stories. Fans of the Nightschool series might be a little surprised by the change in art style, but will likely get a kick out of revisiting the world of The Weirn Books. If you enjoy this book and haven’t read Nightschool yet, I highly recommend checking it out, especially since Yen Press is re-releasing it in a new collector’s edition!
Final Score: 7.5 out of 10
For more information on this comic, visit Yen Press’ website.
What did you think of this comic? Are there any fellow fans of Nightschool out there who’re thrilled to see a new series in The Weirn Books world? Or are you pining for a true continuation of the Nightschool story? Let me know in the comments!
Also, be sure to check out my reviews of some of Svetlana Chmakova’s other works: