There are some stories that work across multiple formats, whether it’s in TV, film or comics. The Witcher is a great example of this, spawning a series of successful games and books. The latest Witcher story has been collected in a graphic novel called Curse of Crows. Geralt of Rivia finds himself working alongside his adoptive daughter and ward, Ciri to stop a monster from terrorising the city of Novigrad.
For anyone who’s unfamiliar with The Witcher, Geralt is a monster hunter for hire. The book series was written by Andrzej Sapkowski and adapted into a video game trilogy by CD Projekt Red. Curse of Crows follows directly from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, with the story written by Paul Tobin and the art drawn by Piotr Kowalski.
The graphic novel begins with Geralt and Ciri rescuing a woman called Jayne from a troll named Rockstride. Rather than fight him, Geralt gives Rockstride some vodka and he lets the woman go. Geralt and Ciri decide to escort the woman to Novigrad, as they are heading in the same direction to fulfil a contract on a striga, a cursed girl who was turned into a beast. Geralt had previously fought a striga and he retells the story of how he broke the curse of the daughter of King Foltest.
On the way to Novigrad, Geralt is asked to look out for a murderer called Forst Bolin. Bolin, a doppler, turns out to Jayne in disguise. Geralt hands him over to the village and he and Ciri carry on to Novigrad.
After reaching the city, the Witchers speak to Maerlina, the woman who issued the contract. Geralt and Ciri stay in her bathhouse and agree to keep an eye out for her son Elid. Elid is able to turn into a crow and comes across as mysterious, despite being simple-minded.
While Geralt is bathing, he’s paid a visit by his lover, Yennefer of Vengerberg. Yennefer has a contract for him and Ciri, which involves them collecting ingredients for a spell. They decide to take it instead of the one on the striga. Geralt soon learns that Yennefer already had the ingredients and she didn’t want Ciri fighting the striga. Ciri overhears her parents talking and decides to go after the striga alone.
Meanwhile, Elid visits a cemetery to talk to his sister Elisa, who is the monster that’s been terrorising Novigrad. Elid is unable to dissuade her from attacking Ciri and the Witcheress nearly loses her life. Geralt goes after the monster and it’s revealed that Elisa and Elid are the children of a man named Ostrit. who was responsible for cursing the striga that Geralt fought. Geralt and Ciri manage to kill the monster and their bond is strengthened.
Torin is skilled at capturing the voices of his characters. It felt as if Geralt was taken out of the game and put into the pages of the comic. He’s surly, gruff and wise, while Ciri is overconfident, mischievous and driven. Yennefer is the pragmatist and the three of them form a family that is wonderful to see on the page.
My only criticism is that it’s not accessible to new readers. If you don’t know the relationship between the characters then you might be left scratching your head. Regardless, Curse of Crows is a worthy addition to The Witcher series and one I’d recommend for fans.