Yes, this is another comic book/graphic novel. I do believe as well that it is a stand-alone. I saw it when it was still in comic issues and thought it looked super cool, so when the graphic novel came out I grabbed it right away. It would technically continue on, but I think it works perfectly as a stand-alone.
The comic is about the Rooks family – Charlie, Lucy, and Sailor. They recently moved to a new town – your standard fresh start from trauma. Lucy was in a car accident leaving her paralyzed from the waist down, and Sailor was bullied until the bully was attacked by …something in the trees.
Because of the story, a single volume graphic novel works. You feel fulfilled at the end, and while the BROADER story is obviously not cleared up, this small section of story is. It feels like it is part of a wider world, a grander story, and the way they left the Rooks, it is possible to carry on the story, but they also didn’t HAVE to.
Since it IS a small story, pretty much anything I say is spoilers.
Sailor was drawn out to the woods by a girl who had been bullying her for a while, with the intention of beating her or killing her (the girl brought a gun, and you only do that with one thing in mind). But something in the woods takes the bully, dragging her into a tree. She had hit Sailor in the head with the butt of her gun before the was attacked, so the police passed off Sailors story as a hallucination from a concussion. Cause naturally, who would believe monsters in the trees dragged her into a tree.
After the move Sailor is attacked in her bedroom, but a twisted and horrifying version of her bully.
This was my second read through because the first I remember feeling confused and couldn’t really remember the story now. The second read through reminded me of why I was confused, but also since I had a VAGUE memory of what happened, I was able to piece things together.
Because the story is kind of the middle of the Rooks story, you are following them, but also flashbacks to explain why things are happening in the story now. Even though this is a horror story about scary witches that eat children, it also holds themes of substance abuse, mental health, family ties, careful what you wish for, corruption, greed, and how far would you go to protect the ones you love? A lot of these I didn’t really pick up the first time through. The second time I noticed much more. Charlie is a comic artist, but he wrote the book as a way to overcome the horrible path he was down, to remind himself that he had great things in his life and didn’t want to lose that. But, because they are covering all of these views, sometimes the story gets lost in itself. When you go from current time, to a flashback, then to a panel of the “comic”, then back to the regular story, it does get a little confusing.
Also, the comic Charlie is writing reflects the themes of the rest of the book, which I also did not notice the first time. It kind of gives away the ending of the book, which I didn’t notice until the second time through. Which I did think was pretty interesting.
I love stories that grow the more you read them. I think that would be my only complaint of the book, is you really need to read it more than once to truly get it. I actually liked it more on my second read through, so there is that.
It is a great story, heart-breaking and heart-warming, scary (I also have a very skewed view of Horror so this might be more scary than I realized. I grew up reading and watching horror so not much scares me. If you are sensitive to horror PLEASE be wary of my recommendations.) and not reliant on media and pop culture references. They make a loose mention of Hansel and Gretel, which was fitting, so it didn’t seem out of place. If you are looking for a quick scary read about a father doing everything he can to protection his family, I recommend this one!