Harrow County Volume 4: Family Tree by Cullen Bunn graphic novel review

Check out Harrow County before its TV series adaptation

Meet a little horror series from Dark Horse that has stayed remarkably under the radar while continuing to evolve in ever more delightfully twisted directions.

Prolific comics writer Cullen Bunn (The Sixth Gun, Deadpool) joins with relative newcomer Tyler Crook (BPRD) to tell a witchy tale of ghosts and monsters. Emmy, about to turn 18, discovers just what her connection is to the evils of the woods surrounding her home in a quite unique rural horror yarn.

Sure, the ‘burn the witch’ tropes are a tad familiar, but the slow pacing of this comic is an oddity among contemporary horror, putting atmospheric build above gore or twists.

Four volumes in, and Emmy has forged a new relationship with the terrible creatures around her, with new sinister forces challenging her and her skinless boy familiar at every turn. There isn’t a comic quite like it, though it will certainly appeal to fans of Locke & Key and Rachel Rising, as Bunn and Crook concentrate on forging an entire new mythology for Emmy to pick her way through. The skinless boy alone – composed of two components, the talking flayed skin piece and the fleshy skinless body – is masterful.

And what really sets Harrow County apart is the touch of Crook – fully painted pages are a rare treat in comics today, and Crook’s non-digital approach is even rarer. The opaque, bloodstained watercolours haunt the panels and pages, darkness lurks in the corners, and the southern Gothic aesthetic burns into the readers mind.

After seeing off a mysterious doppelgänger, and with her friend having saved the town from satanic snakes, now Emmy is confronted with a mysterious group of supernatural strangers claiming to be her true family.

Collecting issues #13-16, this is an easy starting point if you want to get in before the Syfy adaptation hits.