Review by Ian Keogh
One of the mysteries of Harrow County is the presence of a giant black bull-like being with two pairs of eyes. It was first introduced alongside dead witch Hester Beck, but in subsequent appearances Cullen Bunn has hinted there’s far more to it than just another of her creations. There is, and that unfurls as Emmy Crawford learns about the people who claimed to be her family during the events of Family Tree, which didn’t end well.
During her first artistic outing on Harrow County Carla Speed McNeil seemed a good artist on the wrong series, but she’s adapted her storytelling over the opening two chapters here, and is more effective. She uses misdirection and concealment as the creature tells its story to Emmy, while the illustrated sections of the story itself are earlier period pieces and treated accordingly, although not without shocking moments well delivered.
The back story of the family explains some matters, and it doesn’t lack for grim moments, but it’s a more emotional form of horror than the creeping things the series has featured to date. Ultimately it’s about disappointment, although it features two finely plotted revelations over the final pages.
Tyler Crook is back to draw the second half of Abandoned, which is a return to the idea of ill-intentioned people taunting something more powerful than they know. It’s one of those horror stories where the thrill is in the anticipation of people getting what’s coming to them, but Bunn doesn’t stretch this out for too long, and the second chapter moves away from what might be expected. It illustrates how Emmy now understands her position, and how that needs to be protected.
Neither story here numbers among the best of Harrow County, but that’s more to do with the high standards set to date rather than any deficiency. Read these as your first visit, and you’ll find them fine horror with a human touch.
They also form half of the oversized hardback Harrow County Volume Three, and open the second Harrow County Omnibus, both also featuring the next volume Hedge Magic.