Pullbox Reviews Whisper of the Woods- A standalone horror story steeped in Romanian folklore

In search of his missing friend, Adam travels to the heart of Romania’s most supernatural forest, Hoia Baciu. Disregarding the local’s warnings of iele hunting the men in the vicinity, and the witch’s premonition of his impending death, he remains steadfast in his decision to find his friend. Though with every passing night, it becomes impossible to ignore the happenings around him…

From the start of this book, I felt like I was misled. Adam’s search for his missing friend had the easy reading benchmarks of your standard supernatural mystery, aimed at a teen audience… right up until it didn’t. There’s a turn in this story that caught me by surprise and gave me exactly what I needed instead of what I was expecting.

Ennun Ana Iurov did that, and they made it look easy. Maybe the trick is in doling out what’s expected, using a writing rope-a-dope to lure readers into a false sense of security before yanking the rug. Iurov also stays away from the much-used vampire for the heart of their mythic horror, using a different figure of Romanian folklore, the eile. Regardless of how you want to interpret it, I can say that this supernatural/mystery produces some quality creepy moments on the way to its reveal. And in a refreshing turn, you’re not going to have to wait through multiple issues to get to the end of this stand alone, 96-page tale.

On the illustrations, I can also say that manga enthusiasts are going to appreciate Ennun’s style. Fans of more western comic art might have to adjust their perspective a bit, but broadening one’s horizons is never a bad thing. The characters are each given a specific set of characteristics, none looking particularly like any other and all fitting into their respective niches (crotchety old villager, naïve tourist, mysterious witchy person, etc).

Finally, I have to give a word of appreciation to letterer, Micah Myers. A large part of the atmosphere in this book is in its captions & sound effects. There’s a definite mood that Ennun Ana Iurov is going for, and standard fonts just wouldn’t have done it justice. Myers goes for it, letting his work slide through the panels with ghostly ease. The effect works as the page lacks the sound effects and musical score of a motion picture.

The final nudge I needed to pull me into Whisper of the Woods was the enthusiasm Ennun expressed for the project:

“I’m really excited for Whisper of the Woods to finally be released,” said Ennun Ana Iurov. “It’s a bit nerve wracking, it being the first comic officially published that I not only drew for but also wrote. Regardless, I hope people will give it a try, find some enjoyment in it, and that this comic will make people more interested in Romanian folklore, since we have a lot of dark, creepy monsters and stories that I’m sure many people would enjoy.”

Annun Ana Iurov

Mad Cave Studios produces, yet again. Their knack for attracting talent and letting them do what they do has resulted in stellar results in the past, and Whisper of the Woods is no exception. Readers craving more of a slow-burning horror story will enjoy what’s been done here. You’ve got until October to decide, so you don’t have to wait until the last minute.

Final Score: 11/3

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