Graphic novel about grief is a wonderful homage to old B-movies
After the tragic loss of their son Ruben, Huub and Sara move into an old farm in the woods in the Veluwe nature reserve in hopes of leaving their grief behind and getting their life back on track. But was that really the smartest move? And what do the strange signs carved into the old beech trees mean?
Huub and Sara are each coping with the death of their son in a different way. Sara, who is a fine artist, is in therapy and is taking medication. She has lost her inspiration and can’t get any painting done. Huub, an architect, focuses on his work and the future. The mourning parents have drifted apart, and the change of location doesn’t really help to change this. Huub throws himself into renovating the house. Sara sleeps a lot and reads the diaries of Huub’s great-uncle, which are scrawled full of magical runes, the same signs that are carved into some of the trees on the property. After Sara stops taking her medication, her inspiration comes back and she starts creating new work. She dreams of visiting a mysterious pit in the woods and seeing her son again.
The author uses colour to distinguish between different settings, deftly manipulating the reader. Initially Sara’s dreams are tinged orange, whereas real life is pictured in shades of green. As Sara seems to lose her grip on reality and people start being killed, the fantastical events are depicted in green, leaving it up to the reader to figure out what exactly happened.
This time around, Kriek sets his story not in the dark woods of North America (In the Pines) or the cold hills of medieval Iceland (The Exile) but on home turf, in the Netherlands. In his skillful hands, even the gentle landscape of the Veluwe takes on an aura of mystery.
Inspired by the work of Stephen King, old B movies and the cult classic The Blair Witch Project, Kriek has created a visually stunning gothic horror graphic novel about grief.