Nightschool: The Weirn Books Collector's Ed. Vol. 1 manga review
By Leroy Douresseaux
June 9, 2020 - 15:30

Yen Press
Writer(s): Svetlana Chmakova
Artist(s): Svetlana Chmakova
Inker(s): Dee DuPuy
Letterer(s): JuYoun Lee
ISBN: 978-1-9753-1289-3
$24.00 U.S., $31.50 CAN, 396, B&W, paperback

Nightschool: The Weirn Books Collector's Edition 1 cover image

Rated “T” for “Teen”

Nightschool: The Weirn Books is an American or original English-language (OEL) manga written and illustrated by Svetlana Chmakova.  A supernatural fantasy, Nightschool first appeared as a 24-chapter serial in the monthly manga magazine, Yen Plus, from 2008 to 2010.  Yen Press later collected the manga in a four-volume graphic novel series.

In anticipation of the impending release of Chmakova's new graphic novel, The Weirn Books, Vol. 1: Be Wary of the Silent Woods, Yen Press is collecting the four Nightschool: The Weirn Books as two mini-omnibus paperback graphic novels.  Nightschool: The Weirn Books Collector's Edition 1 collects Nightschool: The Weirn Books, Vol. 1 (Chapters 1 to 6) and Nightschool: The Weirn Books, Vol. 2 (Chapters 7 to 12) in one book.  Collector's Edition 2 will collect Nightschool: The Weirn Books, Vol. 3 and Nightschool: The Weirn Books, Vol. 4 in one book.

Nightschool: The Weirn Books Collector's Edition 1 is the subject of this review.  Nightschool focuses on Alexius “Alex” Treveney, a 13-year-old “weirn” (a particular breed of witch).  Talented, Alex has always been home-schooled, but she is about to have a reason to go to a public school.

Alex's older sister, Sarah Treveney, works at PS 13W, where there is a “Dayschool” and a “Nightschool.”  Sarah is the new “Nightkeeper” at “Nightschool,” the place where vampires, werewolves, and weirns learn the fundamentals of everything from calculus and spell-casting.  When Sarah vanishes and all memory and evidence of her existence is erased, Alex is determined to get to the bottom of it.

What better place to start than Sarah's place of employment, Benjamin Theron Nightschool a.k.a. PS 13W.  Sneaking into Nightschool is difficult, however, so Alex must enroll at the school.  Is she prepared for what she mind find, which includes conspiracies, broken seals, and a secret conflict between the city's supernatural communities?

[This volume includes the “Afterwords” for Volumes 1 and 2]

THE LOWDOWN:  I requested a copy for review of The Weirn Books, Vol. 1: Be Wary of the Silent Woods shortly after I received a press release announcing it.  Later, I received a box of review copies and a copy of Nightschool: The Weirn Books Collector's Edition 1 was among them.  Initially I thought Nightschool was the new Weirn Books title.  But the cover images did not match, and Nightschool seemed, to me, bigger than it should be if it were new release.

Several minutes of Internet research later, I discovered Nightschool: The Weirn Books, of which I had never heard, although I had heard of Svetlana Chmakova.  I did not know what to make of it upon first glance, but after reading Collector's Edition 1, I now know what to make of it.  Nightschool is a fantastic young readers graphic novel, and I am confident that it is a comic book that I would have read if such comics existed when I was a middle-grade, YA, and teen reader (which they didn't).

One of the first things that surprised me was that, although Alex is the story's main character, her aunt, Sarah Treveney, seems to be the dominate player for much of the story's first six chapters.  Chmakova reveals more of her personality than she does of Alex's.  Sarah is a peacemaker, and although she often seems meek, she is clearly open to new ideas (such as creating school activity clubs for the Nightschool students).  When she disappears, I genuinely regretted seeing her go.

Alex dominates the remainder of the first six chapters and of Chapters 7 to 12.  Although she has bouts of fear, Alex is a strong and forceful character; she is bold and takes initiative.  That boldness is what allows us to discover the other characters and subplots as well follow Alex.

Besides Alex or perhaps connected to her, Chmakova has a lot going on in these first 12 chapters, which are breezy, enthralling reads.  However, she offers enough characters, settings, and plot lines stuffed in 12 chapters for 24 chapters.  If Nightschool were not such a good read, that would be a problem.  A lot of the elements in these first 12 chapters:  names, groups, connects, relationships, obligations, conflicts, etc. are needlessly oblique and mysterious.  You know, there is nothing wrong with using a caption box in which to indicate the name of a character or group.

Still, I love Nightschool: The Weirn Books Collector's Edition 1.  I could read the second collection right this minute.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of young adult supernatural fantasy graphic novels may want to try Nightschool: The Weirn Books Collector's Edition 1.

8 out of 10

Rating: 8/10

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