Life on the farm is hard when you’re a young girl, and even harder when the dead begin to rise. When a farmhand comes to Birdie’s family farm, dark events begin occurring and she’s the only one to recognize the stranger’s dark intentions.
On May 25th, Dark Horse is releasing its latest horror novel, Death Follows. Is it good?
Death Follows (Dark Horse Comics)
In just four issues, writer Cullen Bunn and artist A.C. Zamudio are able to create a narrative that effectively gets under your skin. Death Follows has previously only appeared in a digital format through Monkeybrain and this will be the dark tale’s first time in print. Bunn, known for his work in Harrow County and The Sixth Gun, claims that Death Follows is “the darkest story [he’s] written” and having read it, I completely understand why.
The story is told from Birdie’s perspective as she recalls the events that happened to her and her family during that one summer long ago. Her father, stricken with rheumatism and no longer able to singlehandedly care for the farm, allows a wandering stranger to stay on as an extra farmhand in exchange for room and board. While her parents seem oblivious to the stranger’s malevolent disposition, Birdie and her sister are able to recognize his true nature, but are unaware of his intentions. The stranger’s presence coincides with weird occurrences and reanimated corpses which start with rodents and proceed to get…bigger.
What I love about this novel is that while there is a supernatural presence, the true terror takes the form of the farmhand, Cole Jenson. Jenson’s role of the perverted, vile stranger, especially juxtaposed our young, innocent protagonist, creates a very real fear that can make quite an impact on the reader. What makes it worse is the fact that Jenson’s opening expresses his dark thoughts to Birdie which both contributes to and emphasizes the feeling of helplessness throughout the novel. The writing and story sequencing is suspenseful and while reading it at night I definitely become more aware of my surroundings.
A.C. and Carlos Zamudio do an excellent job creating an ominous atmosphere and disturbing imagery. I’ve never seen their work before, but I was impressed at their utilization of perspective and shading to create high-anxiety panels. They don’t rely on it–they do include some gore throughout the novel, but the emphasis is on a morbid or haunting scare rather than a nausea-inducing one. While most of the endings of horror novels tend to cling to the cliché or leave me disappointed, Death Follows gives you proper closure and remains consistent with its dark nature. It’s one of those books that sticks with you after reading and makes you a little nauseous to think about. It’s gory, it’s haunting, and true to Bunn’s words, it’s dark.
Is It Good?
Not only does this horror story keep you up at night, it leaves you feeling sick with a pit in your stomach. That’s how you know you’ve made a successful horror story. This isn’t Bunn and Zamudio’s first rodeo with the horror genre and hopefully they can continue to put out stuff like this.
Death Follows will be released on May 25!