Note: This is a review of the first two volumes of Harrow County: Countless Haints & Twice Told.
Harrow County is an unusual coming of age story where Emmy discovers that she is actually the child of a witch and that witch embodies her being. Well, that’s certainly a curveball. Emmy strives to go against her nature and use her witch powers for good instead of evil. The series hits high-gear when Emmy discovers that she has a sister named Kammi that has the same set of powers but, shocker, uses them for evil.
While there are certainly some similarities to Rachel Rising, this one is Southern Gothic Horror instead of the New England tradition of witch horror. This deals more with good country folks and the sort of small-town stigmas placed against women coming of age. It’s a subject rife for all sorts of symbolism and horror and makes for some great stories.
Tyler Crook’s art brings this horror popping off the page. While there is plenty of horrific and macabre imagery, the art has a softness to it because of the watercolors it uses. In some ways, the sensibility is closer to a children’s book. While not suitable for most children, it certainly fits the character in terms of aesthetics.
Cullen Bunn’s writing makes for these simple, almost folkloric tales. As Emmy interacts with creatures, there’s this elegant simplicity to them. They’re all grotesque monsters, but all easily identifiable. And her pure heart plays well against the evils and horrors she faces.
It’s a great time for horror comics right now and Harrow County joins its ranks as one of the best ongoing horror series. I’m eager to catch up with the rest and see where things go from here. It’s a fresh, beautiful take on the genre the draws from a well of Southern Gothic Horror to make something both childlike and horrific.
© 2016 James Blake Ewing