Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Tyler Crook
Release Date: 13th April 2016
Cullen Bunn is no stranger to horror but, in Harrow County, he has woven a macabre mythology layered with monsters, magic and mystery. A necessary purchase for any self-respecting horror fan, the series is hauntingly gruesome, visually stunning, and downright creepy.
This issue is a testament to the strength of Bunn’s writing, as it completely omits the central protagonist in the series, Emmy, who is the reincarnation of a powerful witch murdered by the townsfolk. Instead, we are guided through this portion of the tale by Bernice, Emmy’s neighbour and friend. Where other books may suffer when a central or familiar character is absent from an issue, Bunn’s deviation from Emmy’s main story arc only serves to further enthral the reader and, like the shadowy woods of the rural North Carolina landscape in which the story is set, expand and deepen the dark world of Harrow County.
Investigating the mysterious Lovey Belfont after the town is infected by demonic serpents, Bernice interrupts a strange ritual and finds herself captured by the old woman. The suspense soon turns to intrigue as Bernice learns the secrets of Belfont’s involvement with the serpents and takes on a mantle of her own in the fight against the dark supernatural forces within Harrow County.
The 1930s setting, with all of the historical elements imbued in Bunn’s writing – the dialogue reflects Bunn’s knowledge of the area and lends a much needed authenticity to the comic – and Tyler Crook’s artwork, creates an ethereal world in which the superstitions, monsters and magic all blend harmoniously with the dream-like nostalgia of a bygone era. Crook’s illustrations are monstrously beautiful; amidst the distinct character style, the rural environment and otherworldly creatures are captured in striking detail, washed with a muddy palette of tonal colours that makes each page appear stained with blood to create an abject, visceral experience for the reader.
This is illustrated horror at its best. The world of Harrow County is dark, dense and deserves its status as a modern horror classic.
To find out more about Harrow County, make sure to check out our interview with writer Cullen Bunn by CLICKING HERE.
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The writer of this piece was: Rebecca Booth
Rebecca Tweets from @rebeccalbooth