I haven’t read very many graphic novels lately, but when I saw this available for review, I was quick to get a copy. I think Joe Hill is one of the best writers of horror/dark fiction writing today.
June Branch is visiting her boyfriend, Liam, during the last weekend of the summer. Liam is just finishing his summer job as a deputy on an island in Maine, where the main part of his job is handing out tickets and directing traffic to the tourists. Just as Liam clocks out of his last day and heads to the sheriff’s house for a picnic, some prisoners have escaped from a work gang. The sheriff sends Liam on to the house to look after the women while he rounds up the prisoners.
But it’s not a quick round-up and a group of criminals break into the house and take Liam away. It’s now up to June to protect herself and to rescue her boyfriend. She grabs an old Viking axe from the sheriff’s weapon collection which, unbeknownst to anyone, is magical. When she is attacked by one of the intruders, she swings that magical axe and takes the criminal’s head off. The head rolls away but keeps on talking, unaware at first that its not attached to its body. The head just talks away and June listens. The heads gives her an idea as to where she might find Liam. As she goes, she meets and decapitates more of the criminals, getting new information from them along the way – though not all of it necessarily true. Decapitating a criminal doesn’t mean they suddenly start telling only truths.
There are some surprises in store for June and Liam, and the criminals are not quite what they at first seem, nor are the caretakers of the community, and June will have a lot to work through in order to survive the ordeal, and she’ll do it with a basketful of talking heads.
This was really a lot of fun. It’s dark (there’s a young girl cutting off heads with an ancient axe!) but it is infused with humor that really takes the edge off. Joe Hill is really good at building a story. He understands dramatic structure and works it well. He adds in his unique brand of horror and humor and makes the absurd seem perfectly natural. You actually feel satisfied after reading Hill’s work!
This is a graphic novel, so the art is integral to telling the story and the work here by Leomacs really fits the story well.
I’ve read a few good graphic novels this year and it feels sort of reassuring that this form of literature is producing some great reads.
Looking for a good book? Basketful of Heads by Joe Hill is dark, horrific, delightful and fun.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Basketful of Heads
author: Joe Hill
publisher: DC Comics
hardcover, 184 pages