Wytches by Scott Snyder

The first thing that drew me to Wytches by Scott Snyder was the cover, it did such a great job of grabbing my attention while also letting me know what the tone of the novel was going to be before I even opened the book. Dark, stylized art that was personal and small in scope. No world-ending apocalypse in this horror novel, just a family struggling to cope with their past and trying to accommodate to a new home. Little do they know that the woods that surround them holds an evil more sinister then they could imagine.

The horror in this novel comes from how little we see. As a fan of horror I always appreciate when a writer is able to show restraint in showing too much of the monster. Snyder does a fantastic job of only showing the wytches in little chunks throughout the story. It helps to preserve the mystery of the monster and horror is largely anchored in fear of the unknown, once the monster is explained to us, it ceases being as scary. Snyder knows this and does a fantastic job of showing the reader just enough of the wytches so that the reader knows to fear them.

Jock’s art is stylized, chaotic, yet also clearly defined. Some artists that draw in a similar style to Jock border on abstract art but Jock is able to draw these fantastically beautiful and dark settings and characters while grounding them as well. Jock is able to take the extremes of this chaotic art style, with bright and dark colors contrasting all across the frames with paint splatter and exaggerated figures and balance that style with a more grounded style and the two styles mesh wonderfully throughout the story and add to the tone and presentation of the work as a whole. Typically, the extreme exaggerated borderline abstract art is used when the supernatural is occurring, and this contrasts with the clearer more-traditional sections of the work where the protagonists aren’t being confronted by tree-wytches.

Overall, Wytches doesn’t go out and do anything that transcends the trappings of the horror genre, but it isn’t trying to. It is a very well-executed horror story about a family coming to terms their traumatic past, and in the process having to fight off supernatural wytches. It is a spooky story that nails it all where it counts. Atmosphere, art, writing and scares.

For other spooky scary stories, look no further than the Davenport Public Library’s Halloween Libguide! If you are looking for more graphic novels to dive into, our Comics Libguide is the one for you!

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

boneseasonI read a lot about The Bone Season before I started reading the book, which means that I read a lot about the book’s author, Samantha Shannon.  A twenty-one year old recent graduate from Oxford University, Shannon has been marketed as a literary wunderkind. Every interview and review mentions her age or her status as a “young writer”.  As a first-time published author, that is to be expected (here I am doing the same), and I would be lying if I didn’t say that influenced my decision to pick it up.

But this novel stands on its own (well, at least until the next six books in the series are released.)  Shannon has created a fascinating near-future paranormal fantasy novel that includes elements of revisionist history and dystopian science fiction.  Set in Scion controlled London in 2059, this fast-paced novel introduces readers to Paige Mahoney, a member of the clairvoyant criminal underworld.  Scion was formed to find and eliminate clairvoyants like Paige, so being a member of Jaxon Hall’s Seven Dials based gang keeps her a protected and fed member of a family.  But when Paige commits a crime that leads to her arrest and capture, she finds herself in Sheol I, a penal colony for voyants run by Rephaim, a race of non-human clairvoyants.  While in Sheol I, Paige is assigned to the Warden for training and care and she has to decide if she can trust him, as she tries to find a way to save herself and the other humans imprisoned for life in Sheol I.

Shannon has been called the next J.K. Rowling (pressure anyone?) and The Bone Season has been compared to the Harry Potter series and The Hunger Games series.  I understand why, and I would recommend that fans of both series check out The Bone Season.  But I think that while there are elements of each in this book (magical powers, dystopian future, strong female protagonist), Shannon has created something different.  She has said that she was influenced by Margaret Atwood, and this is apparent in her intelligent, literary take on urban fantasy.  This might be my favorite read this year (but there are two more months to go, so don’t hold me to that.)