Daphne Byrne

Laura Marks and Kelley Jones. Hill House, $24.99 (160p) ISBN 978-1-77950-465-4
PEN Award–winning playwright Marks’s eerie period fantasy, her comics debut with artist Jones (the Deadman series), plunges readers into a gaslamp-era New York City haunted by shadows of death. After teenage Daphne’s father dies under suspicious circumstances, her mother becomes entranced by spiritualism in hopes of communing with the afterlife. Daphne suspects her mother’s new favorite medium has ulterior motives. Meanwhile, Daphne, cursed with genuine spiritual sensitivity, gets haunted by visions of the dead and of a ghostly “brother” who encourages her budding necromantic powers, promising that “the only way to feel safe is to be a monster.” The tale’s packed with horror set pieces: séances, Satanic rituals, mouldering cemeteries, and a spiritual underworld of ghosts and demonic entities. But the plot’s hard to follow, especially Daphne’s hairpin character turn from wary-eyed psychic sensitive to ruthless killer. Jones delivers on his horror cred with creepy mobs of monstrous creatures, but his human portraits are surprisingly uneven, with facial features that sometimes seem to be sliding off skulls. The collaboration feels right on the verge of coalescing into a powerful horror plot before collapsing into mere scares. There’s enough moody gothic atmosphere here to satisfy voracious horror fans, but it’s not top of the genre. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 11/19/2020
Release date: 11/03/2020
Genre: Comics
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