The Weirn Books, Volume 1: Be Wary of the Silent Woods is the debut volume of a brand-new graphic novel series from Svetlana Chmakova, published by JY, the Yen Press imprint dedicated to middle-grade readers. This volume also features coloring assists from Effie Lealand and Melissa McCommon, with inking assists from Young Kim and Lealand, and lettering by Ju Youn Lee.
Taking place in a small magical town of Laitham on the coast of New England, there is magic in this modern-day tale. The town is filled with humans and human-passing Night Things like vampires, mermaids, shifters, weirns, and others. Ailis and Na’ya, the volume’s main characters, are cousins and pretty average students, but when a shadow starts looming and a classmate starts to get weird, they are the first to notice.
Even in the Night Realm, mysteries happen and the children learn that the forbidden mansion in the Silent Woods is not just an old house but the site where weirn children went missing, including their grandma’s brother. Having been stalked by a mysterious night thing, things take a turn for the dangerous when Na’ya’s little brother D’esh disappears and it’s time for the Ailis, Na’ya, and their friends head to confront the secrets of the forbidden mansion in the Silent Woods.
The Weirn Books Voume 1 is told from the perspective of Ailis, a young weirn, a witch born with a demon guardian spirit known as an astral. she provides a narration that acts as both exposition and emotional connection in the volume. While there are small elements of school life, the broader narrative is focused on the supernatural and adventure. That said, the worldbuilding in this volume is on the light side. While readers will know enough to comprehend the weirns, there is much more to the world that you have to assume, which may be because this young readers’ graphic novel fits into a larger world of The Weirn Books: Nightschool, also written by Chmakova.
Ultimately, from a narrative perspective, The Weirn Books Voume 1 is tight and simple. Children learn of mysterious disappearing children, are told not to go into the house, they go into the house and must figure out how to survive. That said, how it’s executed is what makes this a standout story and one that will hit across ages. The darker elements of the story are smoothed b by the softness of the astrals and how they’re illustrated along with how their interactions are detailed, with Lee choosing to use small adorable images to show the Astrals speaking to their weirn counterparts.
The art in The Weirn Books Volume 1 is perfection. It beautifully represents the duality of the magical world. The town itself is split into two areas, the human area, and the Night Realm, the former is normal and the latter is filled with the overt fantasy of Chmakova’s magical world, including the Ailis and Na’ya’s school which transforms from a human school to a night thing one. Additionally, the colors from Lealand and McCommon are both subtle and vibrant with life. That said, the story’s art and colors are at their peak in the Night Realm when darkness takes over and the purples jump out against the night setting.
Overall, The Weirn Books Volume 1: Be Wary of the Silent Woods is a near-perfect supernatural adventure that is not only age-appropriate reading for younger readers but can also hit with the older end of the young adult crowd. The story is emotional, fun, adventurous, and it’s brought to life with beautiful art.
The Weirn Books Volume 1: Be Wary of the Silent Woods is available from booksellers now.
The Weirn Books Volume 1: Be Wary of the Silent Woods
The Weirn Books Volume 1: Be Wary of the Silent Woods is a near perfect supernatural adventure that is not only age-appropriate reading for younger readers, but can also hit with the older end of the young adult crowd. The story is emotional, fun, adventurous, and it’s brought to life with beautiful art.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.