Title: The Queen and the Woodborn
Developed by the author Shiniez, The Queen and the Woodborn is a Slavic-inspired webcomic that is currently available for free on WebToon. As of this date it has eight published episodes and updates once every few months. This may seem scant (the author is currently juggling another series as well), but if you feel like Western culture is sorely lacking on Slavic-themed content apart from the Witcher series, you’ll gobble this one up.
The story follows a foreign woman who, against the counsel of three clergy that speak on behalf of the three (out of four) gods who left a sacred wood to dwell amongst humanity, marries the king. After many years of trying, they are able to produce a single son. Though the custom of this place is for wetnurses to raise royal children until they come of age, the queen insists on raising her son herself. She is able to do so for twelve years, at which point in time the priests (who have nursed a grudge against her since she came) take over the raising of the boy and cut off all contact between mother and son.
Many years pass, and the queen’s letters to her son go unanswered. She is also forbidden from visiting him, and she receives no letters. To make matters worse, the priests wage a whisper campaign against her that sees her ostracized from her own kingdom. Worn down, she finally accepts a “health potion” from a priest, only to imbibe a cursed potion that marks her for death from a sinister spirit.
The queen chases after an apparition of her son, past a marker stone and into the woods. As the saying in this country goes, “Stone crossed is Woodborn owed.” This means that any who cross into the woods belong now to the Woodborn, the last of the gods and the one who chose to stay behind to guard the slumbering Old Ones.
The Woodborn, appearing as a beautiful, feral woman with wings sprouting from her head, is surprised to find that the queen greatly resembles a lost lover she once had, and so lays claim to the queen. Unfortunately, the queen has been gravely injured and slips into death. But the Woodborn will not be cheated so easily, and descends into death to claim her, bargaining with the spirit there to let her have the queen for a time in exchange for the Woodborn giving up one of her own powers.
The other mythic denizens of the woods are shocked that the Woodborn would go to such extremes for the queen, though they too cannot help but note the similarities the queen shares to the Woodborn’s old lover.
This webcomic is due for an update anytime now, so if you’ve been hungering for tales of powerful babas and enchanted woods, I strongly urge you to pick this one up.
[Reviewed by Ashley Nicole Hunter.]