Harrow County Library Edition, Vols. 1-4, by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook

This entry is part 16 of 23 in the series 2023 Reads

Like all the posts in my 2023 reads list, this four-volume set of enormous hardback graphic novels appaears here on my blog at a slight lag, meaning I read this a while back. Not much of one, oin this case, though: I finished this yesterday. 


I was completely unfamiliar with this comic series, but it was in the holdings at the local branch of the National Library, so I figured I’d give it a shot. The books were heavy—which is to say, really nice quality, large, durable hardbacks with very thick pages, and they’re striking-looking books. 

The stories are fun and creepy, and flavorful in that way one expects from a story where ghosts and things that go bump in the night are referred to as “haints.” The artwork is really well-done, too: especially the watercolour, which gives it a kind of old-timey, natural feel that fit the characters and milieu really well.  But the real standout of the series is the twists and turns of the tale, the way things keep going in an unusual direction with each mini-arc of the narrative. The twists aren’t necessarily all unanticipated, and once or twice I got the sense the pacing would have felt better if I’d been reading the story in its original form, over weeks at a time rather than in a single volume, but I think they’re all executed quite well, and enough is left undefined and weird that I think it all works well. By the time I got to the end of Volume 3, I found myself feeling a little disappointed that the end was approaching, but I also found myself tearing through Volume 4 all the same. 

This, however, seems to be one of the last big graphic novel collections available at the local branch of the National Library. There’s a few volumes of Locke & Key, which I will probably look at this winter, but I think I’ve exhausted the library’s offerings in this genre. It’s just as well that I’m finally able to focus better and I’m reading more prose again, after such a long drought through the pandemic. 

That reminds me, I’m eagerly awaiting the Haffner Press two-volume complete collection of all of Manly Wade Wellman’s John The Balladeer stories and novels. It’s taking forever, but that’s just as well, since I haven’t had a chance to preorder it yet.  Honestly, I’d probably be just as happy with old paperbacks, but some of them are rare and internet economics have caused all the prices to be jacked up so high that a pair of brand-new premium hardbacks is cheaper than trying to pick up the old editions—at least, if you don’t have direct access to some local, offline used bookstore. I mention the Wellman because I feel like he’s the touchstone for this kind of Appalachian horror stuff—from Old Gods of Appalachia to Harrow County, these seems to be credit owed to him for the inroads he made in building an outpost in the world of genre fiction for fantastical tales from the hills. 

Series Navigation<< <em>Uninhabitable Earth</em> by David Wallace-Wells<em>Ghosts of the Tsunami: Death and Life in Japan’s Disaster Zone</em> by Richard Lloyd Parry >>

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