What the HELL Did I Just Read: Coffin Hill

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Coffin Hill Volume #1: Forest of the Night is not a cheerful story of redemption. It is a bloody carnival ride of mental institutions, pagan blood rituals and nightmares. I was not really of sound mind when I read Coffin Hill, having just come off the film Deer Woman by John Landis; it was better this way.

Officer Eve Coffin is not prepared for a bullet in the head; she is even less prepared for the visions of her  past that accompany it.  After spending a brief period of time convalescing, Eve decides to return to her home; a place she has avoided for ten years. The scene of the disappearance of some of her close friends, Eve soon realizes she should not be expecting a fatted calf for a feast. Many still blame her for the missing and insist that due to her family history Eve is one of the Coffin family witches. Raised in a wealthy family,Eve  spent a good deal of her teen years without consequence. However, all Eve can remember of the fateful night in 2003 is drinking and carousing, a brief spell, and then waking up naked, alone and covered in blood. Eve begins to look into the modern disappearances of several girls and starts to discover what really happened.

My chief advice is to not read this comic before bed. With Nathaniel Hawthorne-sque elements of New England mixed with a special blend of horror and witchcraft, Caitlin Kittredge does not let the mind rest for very long. Returning to an unwelcome home is a common theme, but to return to a home where people, not to mention yourself, are pretty sure you’re a witch and released something dangerous when you were a teenager is a whole other trip to the psychiatrist. Kittredge’s main character, Eve Coffin, has several cliche witch and cop elements, but it is the blend mixed with Kittredge’s style that keeps Coffin Hill from getting boring. I found myself devouring the pages of this collection like a demon swallowing the souls of the innocent.

Inaki Miranda, Stephen Sadowski and Mark Farmer do an incredible job with both character design and with the atomospheric backgrounds. They manage to make both a cemetery and a mental institution realistically creepy, without having to be too cartoony with their horror. Eva De La Cruz gives the series a special kick with her colorization. The art is moody and atmospheric, with red and black highlights everywhere.

Fans of Supernatural and American Horror Story will enjoy this comic. While New England horror seems to have been done to death over the past few years (no pun intended) in the film world, it seems to have a beautiful place in the comics realm. With an intriguing story, bizarre characters, demons like crazy, Coffin Hill Volume #1: Forest of The Night made me uncomfortable, and I loved every second of it.

Coffin Hill Volume #1: Forest of the Night is available May 20th, 2014 from Vertigo.


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