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The Witcher: Fox Children
Written by: Paul Tobin
Art by: Joe Querio
Dark Horse, $19.99, 136pp
Published: December 2015

This graphic novel volume collects issues #1 through #5 of the Dark Horse comic book, The Witcher: Fox Children.

The story begins with Geralt and his traveling companion, a dwarf named Addario Bach, camping in a forest on their way to find passage to Novigrad. When they arrive at the dock, they not only find a ship willing to take them, the captain and some of the passengers on board are downright excited to offer them passage when they realize that Geralt is a famous Witcher. In lieu of payment, they ask that Geralt act as escort to the party in case the need arises. It doesn't take long for Geralt to figure out that the need arose before he ever stepped foot aboard the sloop.

Some of the men are tight-lipped and hiding an incriminatingly dangerous secret of a heinous nature, one, that threatens the lives of all on board. What is their secret? What they thought of as a rescue mission for a kidnapped elven girl turned into a fiasco when they brought in Mr. Fysh, a not-so-upstanding man of the world, to help them with their quest. They end up with a different child, who was stolen from a Vulpess.

As Geralt works his way to the heart of their secret, he tells them they are doomed for their deeds and, to try to undo what they have done, he tells them to put in to the nearest port and set the child free, for the Vulpess will never stop searching for her or them. The men refuse to comply, thinking they have the upper hand, being on board a ship and having a Witcher on board to protect them.

Addario asks Geralt what he should be looking out for. He had heard that Vulpesses were vixens at times and she-elves at others. Were they like werewolf wenches, except being foxes, or what? Geralt replies that, unlike were-creatures, which are humans who transform into animals; Vulpesses are anterions, beasts, or beings rather, who assume human form. She will be very quick and extremely strong, but her truest weapon will be illusions.

As a freak storm drives them off course, they find themselves drifting between two small isles and they know that means close to the powers and mercy of the Vulpess. The compass goes haywire, the river becomes calm, and, as they drift closer to land and overhanging trees, snakes begin to drop onto the deck. Long dead sailors from wrecked ships along the bank begin to rise and attack them. Water hags arise from the water to steal the Witcher's swords, as well as the lives of some of the men. What is real and what is illusion?

As the story enfolds in a fury of death and delusion, taking many forms and including lots of different creatures, will Geralt and Addario survive unscathed from the Vulpess's revenge? Read on, if you dare!

I found this a decent read, with the story building well and containing lots of action before reaching an interesting conclusion. It's not better or worse than 'The Witcher: House of Glass' that I reviewed last month, just different. I didn't like Joe Querio's artwork as much as I did last month, but it's still not bad. The colours by Carlos Badilla helped make the art stand out and look dark but vibrant and fitting for the story. ~~ Dee Astell

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