Review – Harrow County vol 1: Countless Haints TP (Dark Horse)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Art: Tyler Crook
Release Date: December 2nd, 2015

So I found myself wide awake in the dark, wee hours of the morning a couple of nights ago and reached for the top couple of trades on the pile that is permanently by the side of my bed. Ahough the shape and content changes, the height rarely does. Lucky for me, a horror comic fan, both grabs were horror; this and Severed by Scott Snyder. What a treat. I turned an insomnia struck night into a darkly macabre couple of hours.

Harrow County: Countless Haints collects issues 1-4 of the series. The woods of Harrow County hide monsters and creatures, specifically haints (Southern for ghosts), ghouls, apparitions; a colloquialism for haunts. Emmy knows about the countless haints and on the brink of her 18th birthday, life gets a little weird. Her father acts suspiciously and the townspeople stir. In the past, these people killed a witch and it’s just possible that she may have cursed the young females of the county.

During a walk into the woods, Emmy spots a young boy and follows him into the deep, thorny woods. And here’s where things get macabre. She finds his skin – not in pieces – but in a complete piece replete with eye-holes. Like a Halloween costume. Less gross than Buffalo Bill’s one piece, but still damned creepy. She folds up and takes it home with her.  When Emmy realises that her father aims to kill her, she takes shelter in the woods and her skin boy joins with his other half to save her from the townspeople.

Harrow County is a beautiful comic. The story is perfectly paced; we see Emmy and her father at home, happy, long enough to invest in the change that is about to take place and the pyrrhic choice her father is going to have to make. The woods and its haints within are an harmonious unit, beautifully realised by Crook’s artwork. And the artwork? Well, what an absolute joy it is to see actual watercolours in a comic. Visually, it is stunning to look at as well as read. From the blues and autumnal colours of the bucolic farm life to the fiery reds and yellows of the violence; the witch’s death, the ghosts, the remembrance of evil doings – it’s just an absolute visual treat.

Emmy’s skin is both translucent and solid, reflecting the colours around her as well as the emotions and rage that conflict inside of her. She is both an innocent and a dark entity.  Crook notes at the end of the volume that the decision to use watercolours made for an “interesting challenge’. Well, I am glad that both the decision as made and that he rose to the challenge. It sets this book apart.

Harrow County is a fresh look at familiar tropes.  Like the woods by your house it’s familiar yet brooding with new horrors. Isn’t that why we all love and fear the woods in equal measure?

Rating: 5/5.

If you want to find out more about Harrow County, make sure to check out our interview with series writer Cullen Bunn by CLICKING HERE.

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HAZHAVThe Writer of this piece was: Hazel Hay
You can follow Hazel on Twitter

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