Welcome to another installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be sharing various pieces of underappreciated scary books, comics, movies, and television to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.
Graveneye is a new graphic novel from TKO about a haunted house that’s haunted by its inhabitants. Written by Sloane Leong with art by Anna Bowles, it’s set to release in a few weeks, but given the crisp and cold horror vibe, this is a horror story you can read as long as the leaves are dead or off the trees.
Told in chapters, the entire story is narrated by the mansion. It’s not physically alive, nor does it affect the inhabitants, but it does see their acts and reflects on them. Its main inhabitant is a woman who is more monster than one might expect at first and has strong bloodlust. Her name is Isla, and she inhabits the mansion which resides deep in the woods far from civilization, but close to plenty of prey, she may hunt.
While the house narrates, the perspective of a new maid draws the reader into the narrative. A young and clearly innocent woman, she cuts her hand on a door almost immediately upon entering the mansion clearly a bit unnerved by the home but needing the new job.
The perspective of the mansion is done very well, capturing the long history it has had with Isla through flashback, but also even from its time as a tree in the forest which is understood upon its reflections. It’s a wise being in the sense that it catalogs what it sees and welcomes its inhabitants, since that is its function. There’s a poetic nature to the captions, which help draw you into the cold and lonesome existence that can only observe. The observations are keen, but also a bit sorrowful as we see Isla do terrible things.
The art by Bowles is well matched to the dreary and crispy cold nature of the story. Drawn mostly in grays and blacks which appear to be a mix of ink and watercolor, the color red is used to draw the eye to striking moments of violence and gore. The style has a whimsical nature to it not unlike Edward Gorey’s work, with simpler facial expressions but details abound in the environments and the many details within the house. There’s an exceptional double-page layout of the entire house, which shows the maid working in the many rooms.
This double-page spread enhances the idea of the house as a living thing and you’ll certainly linger on specific rooms or piece together how one might move about its spaces. The play of light is also well done, bet it the shadows of mid-day that creep in, or the light of a fire.
This is a story about Isla opening up to the maid, but given her haunting past and animalistic nature, you’ll be on the edge of your seat wondering if she’s capable of being kind to anything or anyone. This leads to a conflict between two main figures in the maid’s life and the visuals appropriately twist and turn with the chaos of the moment.
Graveneye is a haunting story that’ll send a chill down your spine. It’s a tale that is properly read with a chill in the air that forces you to ponder your very nature. Its genius lies in how it is told through the eyes of an inanimate object of the home which comes with very little judgment, but only observation.
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