Woodland Creatures volume 2: Wild Souls
Cristina Roswell, Fali Ruiz-Dávila, Tomás Aira
I reviewed the first volume of Woodland Creatures back in February 2020, when the world was different. The urban fantasy tale of humans lycanthropically linked to giant Amaroq wolves of Inuit legend focused on conflict, both personal and political.
The conflict theme continues in the second volume. Our angst ridden anti-hero Calliope returns to the Alaskan woods with her wolf – “you’re the only one that really gets me” she tells her furry friend, like generations of teenage girls before her. Calliope is truly a scary character, an angsty young woman who has the power to rip your throat out.
She is returning to her family – where unsurprisingly there are a few tensions at play. We begin to see just why Calliope is in such a bad mood all the time. After a savage and immature unleashing of bloodlust in the forest she pays a penitent visit to an indigenous village where she begins to better understand and control her powers.
Calliope starts on a path of maturity although it is unclear how far along she will get. The opportunity to learn and grow. She struggles with the legacy of her father, her broken relationships with lovers and family and her own rage. As indigenous elder Clara tells her “you’re capable of far more than you think but how you choose to use your gift from now on is entirely up to you.”
The woodland setting provides plenty of opportunities for artist Tomás Aira to depict the lush northern rainforests of Alaska. Towering trees, sleeting rain, bears and wolves, lakes and cabins. I could practically smell the pines and I must confess I did wish the book was coloured as it would really bring the setting to life.
The rage filled protagonist Calliope put me in mind of the Kalix the Werewolf Girl novels by Martin Millar, although I sometimes felt this book could benefit from Millar’s use of humour. The coming of age themes and adolescent power fantasy element of the book make it an obvious choice for the urban fantasy hungry young adult market.
Volume 3 of Woodland Creatures is coming soon on Kickstarter.
You can find out more about the project and its creators on the Woodland Creatures website.