Review: Rusalka - Whispers of the Forest by Kamila Krol

by Benjamin Williams
26th May, 2024
2 minutes

If you're a fan of folklore, then you need to check out Rusalka: Whispers of the Forest by Kamila Krol, published through Strangers Publishing. It features a mysterious water demon, Slavic folklore, fairy tales, secrets, lovely art and a wonderful colour scheme. Plenty to get excited about!

Rusalka - Whispers of the Forest

The graphic novel explores the story of Rusalka, a mysterious water demon from Slavic folklore, who resides by the lake in the ancient forest. Legends portray her as a deadly threat, luring lost wanderers to their doom. However, the novel delves into her true identity and the secrets hidden in her fragmented memories. It's the first graphic novel from writer and illustrator Kamila Krol, and if you've never seen her work before, then you're missing out.

Starting with the art as usual, and this is one stunning comic. The full-colour pages are visually striking, and the colour scheme plays a significant role. 

The forest itself becomes a character, its secrets intertwined with Rusalka's quest for identity and understanding. There are shades of green for present-day scenes and a red palette for Rusalka's dreams or reflections on a "real" life.

Rusalka - Whispers of the Forest preview underwater

There's a really harmonious blend of free-form creativity and meticulous structure throughout. The lush green colour scheme infuses the pages with an organic, aquatic essence that also takes in the surrounding forest. It evokes both the tranquillity of water and the vibrancy of nature.

The story unfolds with a minimalist approach, echoing the style of traditional fairy tales and folktales. The intention is to transport the reader into the enchanting world of the story, encouraging them to engage their imagination. The illustrations play a pivotal role in bringing Kamila's imaginative interpretation of the story to life, driving the plot forward.

Rusalka herself is a malevolent entity whose guise as a beautiful young woman ensnared travellers to their demise. In this story, the focus is on unravelling the mysteries surrounding Rusalka. The character's origin and fragmented memories are shrouded in secrecy. This tale delves into her intriguing beginnings, leaving room for unanswered questions, echoing the ambiguity often found in fairy tales and folklore.

The way the story and the artwork come together creates a magical comic that will leave you excited for whatever Kamila does next - which will include some folklore comics for AfterLight Comics (super exciting news!) - as the talent shines through on every page.

Rusalka - Whispers of the Forest memories

Overall, Rusalka: Whispers of the Forest is a captivating, beautiful, magical journey into the heart of Slavic folklore, exploring the depths of folklore and the complexity of identity. It's masterfully brought to life by Kamila Krol's vivid illustrations and engaging storytelling. If you're a folklore or fairytale fan, then this is an absolute must read.

In fact, I met Kamila at a recent Plymouth Zine Fair and was halfway through reading the digital copy of this. But I was enjoying it so much that I picked up a physical copy to enjoy the rest and write this review. That alone should tell you how good this is!

Rating: 5/5

If you want to keep up to date with what Kamila Krol is doing, you can give her a follow on Instagram or Twitter. You can buy Rusalka over at strangerspublishing.com.

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