Review by Ian Keogh
This second oversized hardcover Harrow County collection is very much a book of two halves, the first one of judgement called into question and the second a glorious reaffirmation.
To deal with the problem first, it’s down to Tyler Crook not drawing everything. As seen in Volume One, the series has become so definitively associated with his artistic brilliance that even a different good artist like Carla Speed McNeil taking on a chapter fails to meet expectations. Hannah Christenen’s looser style is a nearer approximation to the regular look, but from an artist not yet fully developed. Too often the people just don’t look right, and that’s more than a matter of style. Proportions and perspective failings occur, and Christensen doesn’t like to have people moving. An otherwise intriguing tale about a haunted house falls flatter than the house itself eventually does.
Thankfully there are six chapters of Crook’s art to appreciate in this luxury format. The second story calls for him to design several new characters, members of a family who all look very different, and who all register as creepy. Otherwise he again makes the countryside look beautiful, and supplies imposing threats within it.
Paperbacks titled Snake Doctor and Family Tree originally supplied the material in book form, and their titles broadly indicate their subjects. Cullen Bunn deepens and complicates the relationship between Emmy Crawford and Bernice Anderson by revealing Bernice is now fearful of her friend. She also has a strange experience of her own, as it seems Emmy isn’t Harrow County’s sole resident in touch with the supernatural. This is naturally handled, Bernice’s better instincts overcoming fear and rumour, and it leaves her a stronger person.
Emmy, meanwhile, was completely unaware her stemming from Hester Beck came with even more baggage. It’s revealed that Hester had relations of her own, not strictly family, but united by common cause and perceived duty. They’re a diverse and unsettling bunch as seen on the sample art, and while friendly enough they have an expectation that Emmy will see things their way and fall into line. The exploration of these people over four chapters provides the strongest story in Harrow County since the opener, while opening the door to many new possibilities.
For all the spookiness, Bunn ensures the horror’s strength is rooted in sympathetic people, knowing that if we don’t care enough about Bernice and Emmy then the dangers thrown at them are diminished. Harrow County continues to enthral and disturb, and if you can afford this luxury format, these are the editions to pick up. Alternatively Volume One and Volume Two are combined as the first Harrow County Omnibus.