As if there weren’t enough reasons to waiver between marriage and being single forever, writer Thom Burgess felt it necessary to weigh down the institution with a fearful tale of marital hell. Hallows Fell brings about a cautionary tale of matrimony with enough little twists to make it fresh, fun, and frightening.
Simon, a morally challenged businessman, leaves the pub one night to head to a village party, where his fiancé Margi and his in-laws await. Upon starting his journey home, he quickly finds himself lost in the English countryside at night, followed by a strange woman. Despite multiple attempts to brush her off, she manages to pop up wherever he goes and spouts riddles at him, a continuing one-sided dialogue he doesn’t quite understand until it’s much too late.
Thom Burgess is no stranger to horror, with two very successful works to his name (Malevolents – Click Click and The Eyrie). Much like The Eyrie, this graphic novel is set up as a folklore warning that grasps the main character in its claws and squeezes the fear out of the reader. The story drives down a suspenseful path full of twists and turns, questions and conflict, nail-biting and terror, until it crashes into this sudden, unexpected ending. Burgess knows how to design the plot to elicit the highest levels of fear and suspense, and he doesn’t let up until he’s done. Though Simon isn’t a character one would necessarily care about in any other story, it doesn’t take many pages until the wide-eyed reader is rooting for him, wondering how in the world he could possibly survive.
Izzy Stanic definitely takes control of the art and uses it to her full advantage to create a wonderful world for Simon to explore. Though everything about her work is beautiful (from the black-and-white to the design of the characters to the dark corners of the environment), the one thing that truly stands out is the monster in the story. In many horror-filled mediums (movies, comics, TV, etc.), it is easy to create something that stays hidden for suspense purposes, but usually when the creature is revealed, it is no longer terrifying. The exact opposite is true of Stanic’s work. Once the reader sees what Simon is up against, the heart pounds a little faster and the air is a bit thicker. That is the mark of a great horror artist.
If you are already familiar with Burgess’ work, then it’s probably a no-brainer for you that this is a must-read and one to keep on the shelves. If you have never been so lucky to experience his twisted mind, then Hallows Fell is the perfect place to start getting lost in some of the best of today’s world of horror.