Unsettling in the best way.

THE CROSSROADS AT MIDNIGHT

Routine life intersects with the unnatural in five horror tales told through black-and-white comics.

In the opening story, Frankie talks to someone on the other side of the fence; only an eyeball can be seen through a small hole. Frankie is sick of interfering, judgmental parents and seeks connection with someone who understands. This yearning for companionship and comfort is echoed throughout the collection, each time ultimately leading to interactions with unknown beings. A stressed-out student seeks comfort from a mattress found abandoned on the street, which turns out to host a grotesque, flesh-stealing creature. Walking corpses become an old woman’s new companions. A young girl wants to be reunited with her friend the lake monster, who is not so friendly anymore. While each story features some sort of creature or monster, the way they play into the horror differs. Thrilling action, disturbing body horror, unnerving suspense, and deep melancholy can all be found within these tales. The art, consisting of realistic-looking crosshatching lines on white panels, is stunning, with various shapes and shading used intentionally to amp up the drama. The intensity of the stories warrants quick page turns, but all the little details of the art beg to be thoughtfully pored over. Most characters appear White; main characters in one of the stories are cued as Black.

Unsettling in the best way. (concept art) (Graphic horror. 13-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-945820-68-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Iron Circus Comics

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge.

THE LAKE

Two teens with a dark secret return to their old summer camp.

Childhood friends Esme and Kayla can’t wait to return to Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training, ready to try everything they couldn’t do when they were younger: find cute boys, stay up late, and sneak out after hours. Even Andy, their straight-laced supervisor, can’t dampen their excitement, especially after they meet the crushworthy Olly and Jake. An intuitive 17-year-old, Esme is ready to jump in and teach her cute little campers. But when a threatening message appears, Esme and Kayla realize the secret they’ve kept hidden for nearly a decade is no longer safe. Paranoia and fear soon cause Esme and Kayla to revisit their ominous secret and realize that nobody in the camp can be trusted. The slow buildup of suspense and the use of classic horror elements contrast with lighthearted camp activities, bonding with new friends, and budding romance. Similarly, Esme’s first-person point of view allows for increased tension and action as well as offering insight into her emotional and mental well-being. Discussions of adulthood, trauma, and recovery are subtle and realistic, but acts of sexism and machismo aren’t fully analyzed. While the strong buildup of action comes late, it leads to a shockingly satisfying finale. Major characters are White.

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12497-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A lush and darkly twisted modern fairy tale.

HOUSE OF HOLLOW

Ten years ago, the three Hollow sisters disappeared from an Edinburgh street while on holiday. A month later, they came back.

When Iris, Vivi, and Grey returned, they couldn’t remember anything of their ordeal. Their dark hair turned white, and their blue eyes became black. They sported identical hook-shaped scars on their necks. Despite their altered appearances, their parents were elated to return home to London with them. However, their father soon began to believe that they were not really his daughters, a conviction that led to his suicide. Since then, the story of now 17-year-old Iris and her older sisters has been like catnip to online sleuths, and their ethereal beauty and uncanny ability to bend people to their wills and intoxicate them with dangerous desire add to their mystique. When Grey, now an internationally famous fashion designer and model, goes missing, Iris and Vivi, with help from Grey’s Korean British boyfriend, Tyler, set out to find her and the truth behind their disappearance. Their search takes on a new urgency when they find a decomposing body blooming with white flowers in Grey’s apartment and they are pursued by a murderous man wearing a horned bull’s skull mask. Iris’ smart and assured narration easily carries a fast-paced story entwining themes of grief and loss with elements of folklore and some very inventive body horror. The pervasive feeling of dread builds to a shocking twist.

A lush and darkly twisted modern fairy tale. (Horror. 13-18)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11034-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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