Page 45 Review by Stephen
Bucolic horror set in the American South starring a seventeen-year-old girl called Emmy, raised alone on a farm by her father, Isaac.
"Look at all them fresh graves! You had a spot of misfortune, Isaac?"
"Nothing I can't handle. Just a fever running through the livestock. And nothing you need worry yourself with."
"You sure about that? Emmy's almost of age."
What do you think they are worried about?
Many moons ago the good folk of Harrow hanged a Healing Woman called Hester from an old oak tree.
Then, for good measure, they set fire to her gasoline-soaked corpse. Except it wasn't a corpse and, as the flesh of her face bubbled away in the conflagration, she hissed out a promise:
"Not the end... never the end for me... I'll be back..."
Now I'll have you know that Emmy's a good girl, she is. Devoted to her Dad whom she knows needs her, she hasn't travelled far, never cussed nor never kissed a boy, neither. But Isaac's cattle are beginning to suffer: calves being born deformed with too many legs or pustules round their eyes. And Emmy can't do a thing about too many legs, but one bright morning she cures a calf of its blisters with but a touch, and even the most doting Dad would start to harbour niggling suspicions...
Community is a mighty fine thing, isn't it? I'm serious, it is: neighbours looking out for one another when the authorities won't. But there's a flipside to that - the sheep mentality, the mobs and the masses, turning on those who do not fit in. Young Emmy fits in fine right now and has the kindest heart you could ever imagine. It would be the most godawful, crying shame if her neighbours, friends and even family turned her into the enemy which she most emphatically is not. Is she?
Hmm, shades of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, there - creating your own monster through rejection and adversity.
Haints, by the way, are lost souls; restless spirits of the dead who have failed to move on from the physical world. You'll find plenty of them here and I've cut back on the variety of interior art with its nasty, nasty entities to ensure there are plenty of visual surprises, to focus instead on the landscapes which are glorious whether wintry or in their fiery, autumnal splendour. The oak tree is oh so surely an oak tree with all its gnarled, knotted, pock-marked bark.
For me the star of the show so far is the woodland itself. Although I did like Emmy's unexpected, floppy-skinned ally with its skinless counterpart straddling the trees up above. I'll need to read more before making my mind up, but the final few pages certainly promise the unexpected!
The colours are ever so rich, ripe, muddy, waxy and rancid as required.
For more comics which rich in the witch, please see RACHEL RISING by STRANGERS IN PARADISE's brilliant and blessed Terry Moore.