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    Review of WITCHES' FOREST by Mishio Fukazawa


    TokyoPop, October 2006

    Duan Surk is an adventurer. Unfortunately for him, he's really bad at it. So bad that he's only a level two warrior after two years of trying. So bad that, when he joins the army, his assignment is peeling potatoes. But when his entire brigade vanishes, Duan, along with his pet flying lizard, finds himself starving to death in the middle of a forest that seems to go on forever. When he stumbles across Olba, a level 13 warrior, and then Agnis, a level 3 sorceress with the ability to cast level 10 fireballs, Duan finally has a chance to go on a real adventure. Of course, there is the old saying about being careful what he wished for.

    The three, along with the flying lizard and Agnis's snow leapard, journey deeper into the forest in search of the witches who live in its midst. The witches were responsible for transforming Agnis's mother into a bird and are also the subject of a Quest that Olba purchased. Unfortunately, the witches are perfectly aware of the three adventurers and delight in tricks, traps, and creating monsters to challenge them. Surviving the monsters gives Agnis and Olba a chance to level up. For Duan, no such luck. While his intelligence is key to their survival, actually slaying monsters just doesn't seem to be his thing.

    Author Mishio Fukazawa follows the familiar path of creating a story out of a video-game-style world. The level-ups, character classification, and pre-set Quest scenarios will be familiar to anyone who has played adventure-style video-games over the past decade or more. Selecting a protagonist who is undersized (5'7", 126 pounds), yet intelligent seems calculated to increase buy-in from the most likely readers of this young-adult fantasy.

    WITCHES' FOREST is a straightforward adventure. Still, I found myself drawn into the story, turning the pages to see what would happen next, wondering if Duan might possibly get an experience point or two, and interested to see whether the romantic attraction that both Duan and Olba feel toward Agnis would work out. Readers looking to take a break from their videogame will definitely find a lot to enjoy in this story.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 8/17/06

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