Sunday, October 6, 2013

Nightschool: The Weirn Books (OEL manga, vol. 2) by Svetlana Chmakova

Nightschool: The Weirn Books is a fantasy series that includes vampires, witches, and shifters. It's published by Yen Press.

Synopsis:

Alex is determined to find her missing sister, but she quickly learns that she can't even enter the Nightschool unless she enrolls as a student. Meanwhile, the unconscious Hunters may be dying unless Daemon, their teacher, can find a way to save them. With no other options, he contacts Mr. Roi and asks for his help finding a cursed, white-haired girl - aka Alex.

Review:

I found this at a used bookstore.

This volume comes with a few more answers, although there are still lots and lots of questions. Now that Alex has enrolled in Nightschool in an effort to find her sister, who no one seems to remember exists, readers are given a more detailed look at how Nightschool works from a student's perspective. Alex has to fill out an application, take a tour of the school, and attend class. It all reminded me a little of Hogwarts – the school's floor plan doesn't stay the same from one day to the next, one floor of the school contains an actual forest and a lake, etc. There's even a teacher who seems to take an immediate dislike to Alex, patronizing her when she learns that Alex has been home schooled up until now.

The Hunter and Nightschool groups are still mostly separate, but there's a little overlap that will likely prove dangerous for Alex in the future. Daemon, the teacher of the young Hunters, has Nightschool connections in the form of Mr. Roi. Now it's not just the Hunters looking for Alex, but also Mr. Roi, who's about to become her newest teacher. And Alex still doesn't realize she has done something wrong. Oh boy. I'm looking forward to seeing how this turns out.

As much as I'm enjoying the story, there really is too much going on. Someone at the Nightschool has made Alex's sister disappear like she never existed in the first place. Alex has some kind of curse that still hasn't been explained. The shifters are trying to get Marina back as their personal seer. Several of the Hunters may die from whatever it was Alex did to them unless Mr. Roi can figure out how to help them. There may be traitors in both the Nightschool and Hunter group. Remember, this is volume two, and the series is only four volumes long.

While I'm sure that some or all of these things will have overlapping explanations/conclusions, all this stuff that's going on makes it hard to really get to know the characters. I had one confusing moment when I thought one of the Nightschool students was calling Daemon “teacher,” until I remembered that she was yet another Hunter. And I didn't realize until this volume that the Hunters are apparently not human. Or at least I'm assuming that, since one of the characters talked about something they specifically referred to as “Hunter poison.”

I enjoyed this volume more than the first. I love the Astrals, the moment when Alex shows Mrs. Murrey what she's capable of is absolutely awesome, I can't wait to see what happens when Alex and Mr. Roi meet for the first time, and I'm definitely interested in what's going on. I just wish there were more focus on individual characters. There are quite a few I'd love to know more about.

Extras:

There's an author's note in comic format, plus a couple of pages of fan art. Also, a couple pages of the story are in full-color.

Read-alikes and Watch-alikes:
  • Vampire Knight (manga) by Matsuri Hino; Vampire Knight (anime TV series) - Chmakova's nightschool vs. dayschool thing reminded me a lot of this series, which has a similar setup. Human students attend the school during the day. At night, vampires attend. In an effort to maintain order, the two groups are generally not permitted to mix. Fans of love triangles may want to give this series a try. I have written about the anime and the first volume of the manga.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (live action TV series) - The Hunters made me think of this TV show. Those who'd like a mix of supernatural action and humor should give it a try.
  • Sorcerers & Secretaries (OEL manga) by Amy Kim Canter - I think I own both volumes of this series, although I've only flipped through them so far. It has touches of fantasy, but I think it's more a contemporary-set romance about two people who are still trying to figure their lives out. Those who'd like to try more OEL manga might want to check it out.
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (book) by J.K. Rowling - Just in case there's anyone out there who hasn't read this yet, if you enjoy the school portions of this volume of Nightschool, you absolutely must read this book.
  • Arrows of the Queen (book) by Mercedes Lackey - Another book with some fabulous "fantasy school" bits. Also, fans of the hints of traitorous behavior in Nightschool will likely love the court intrigue that Talia finds herself wading through.

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