Joy Kim

Librarian. Book Reviewer. Coffee Addict.

Chmakova, Svetlana: Nightschool: The Weirn Books, vol. 1

Sarah Treveney has a new job as part of the staff at a high school for vampires, werewolves, and witches. For reasons not yet explained, her younger sister Alex, a talented weirn (a type of witch in the series), is not attending the nightschool and is instead being schooled at home. When Alex sneaks out one night in defiance of her sister’s orders, she has a strange run-in with a group of humans who hunt supernatural beings. And unfortunately for the Treveney sisters, that’s only the first mysterious happening of the night: the second one has even more serious consequences and sets the plot in motion for the chapters to come.Nightschool is the new series by Svetlana Chmakova of Dramacon fame. It’s being serialized in the magazine Yen Plus, and this volume marks the first collection of those chapters. As series openers go, it’s promising but far from perfect.

The series’s biggest asset is Chmakova’s assured and polished art. In the past I’ve often avoided OEL manga because they felt too amateurish and half-done. That is not the case here. Chmakova makes skilled use of the storytelling techniques we see in Japanese manga. Her chibis are particularly adorable and fit smoothly into the rest of the art. I was also pleased to see that this series has a very multi-racial cast of characters, which is all too rare a treat in manga and manga-style sequential art.

As the first volume in a longer series, these chapters are heavy on worldbuilding. Chmakova introduces a lot of ideas and characters, and this is the main place where she stumbles. The deluge of names and faces is a bit overwhelming; the details of the setting are less so, but only because they are too familiar, with echoes of everything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Supernatural. Frankly, in this post-Twilight era, the mere mention of vampires is enough to make me a bit weary, and their appearance here makes me wish Chmakova had paired her fresh art with a few fresher ideas. Hopefully in future volumes the original aspects of her story will be more prominent.

Overall, this first volume isn’t quite compelling enough to sell me on the series yet, but there are just enough grace notes in the art and the story to leave me interested in reading some more before making a final decision. Readers who are already fans of Chmakova’s work have probably already picked this up; others could do worse than to give this series, either in volume or magazine form, a try.

Volume 1 of Nightschool is printed in the larger 5.75″ x 8.25″ trim size and includes one insert of color pages.

Review copy provided by Yen Press.

Review originally published at

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