Eighteen years after a small town put a witch to death, the young girl who they found at the tree where she was hanged begins having dreams. And healing sick animals. And finding spirits in the woods. And because the townsfolk fear that she is the witch reincarnated and out for vengeance, they decide to kill her too.
If horror teaches you anything, it is that older generations have poor communication skills and are quick to murder their young in the name of self-defense.
Bunn focuses his story almost entirely from Emmy’s point of view, which goes a long way toward building tension. He keeps the audience mostly as in the dark a she is. If his narrator knows more than Emmy does—and it seems to—it hews as close to her own knowledge and internal monologue as possible. At one point, she even seems to respond to its captions, declaring something it had just said a stupid thought. This all makes for a strong sense of character.
Tyler Crook’s Harrow County art is nothing short of stunning. It’s bright and expressive. It evokes Americana. When the horror elements are calm, the world is idyllic. The beauty of the world around Emmy underscores the tragedy of her aggressors’ actions—the world around them will be shaped by their actions, and choosing cruelty will inevitably turn this beautiful world to cruelty.
Harrow County was a pleasant surprise for me. A strong sense of voice and clear world-building make it an engaging read, and it looks like no other horror comic I’ve read. I’m looking forward to reading more.
Harrow County, Vol. 1: Countless Haints (#1-4)
Writer: Cullen Bunn | Artist/Letterer: Tyler Crook