Review by Ian Keogh
The sample page tells you pretty well everything you need to know about Something is Killing the Children. You’ll either find it repulsive and stomach-turning, and want to know no more, or horrific and intriguing. It follows a sequence where a bunch of kids are playing truth or dare during a basement sleepover that jumps to a scene of one of them, James, being interviewed in a police station about the deaths of the others. They’re among nine dead children with others missing, indicating Archer’s Peak is not the place to raise your kids. Thankfully, though, a saviour is on the way.
James Tynion IV has a pretty simple premise for this opening volume. There’s a monster in the woods, it’s killing children, and someone we eventually learn is named Erica Slaughter has turned up to deal with it. The clever aspect is the way the story is told, heightening the mystery and running through the emotional spectrum. Tynion makes sure we understand the pain of families whose children have died or are missing, and gradually introduces more and more residents of Archer’s Peak, which is not a large town. Horror thrives on the audience knowing something the protagonists don’t and Tynion uses that well, along with Erica’s patronising confidence when dealing with the locals. We know there’s a monster, we’ve seen it when the locals can’t, and it’s real.
Something is Killing the Children isn’t one of those series where the horror is kept from readers, suggested not shown. Werther Dell’Edera draws some grim scenes, sparing readers nothing, yet while he’s doing that he’s also showing a pleasant, normal town where pleasant, normal people live, and how they’re being figuratively torn apart while it’s literally happening to the children.
Anyone who enjoys horror and has a strong stomach will get their money’s worth, but there’s no resolution here, as Tynion IV and Dell’Edera settle in for the long run. Not everything is laid out. We don’t learn about the Octopus, for instance, so perhaps we will in Volume Two. Anyone who’s convinced this is for them might as well head straight for the complete story of Archer’s Peak in the hardcover Something is Killing the Children Book One.