Laura Marks, writer. Kelley Jones, artist. Michelle Madsen, colorist. Rob Leigh, letterer. Published by Hill House Comics, Black Label, DC Comics.
I am not entirely sure what I just read. Daphne Byrne is a gothic coming of age story taking place in 1880s New York City. Daphne has lost her father, her mother is seeking spiritual answers, but it’s Daphne who hears an otherworldly voice.
The book is scary, romantic, confusing, shocking, and at the end jaw dropping. Is this all in Daphne’s head? Could a young woman who recently experienced the death of a parent and is hitting puberty at the same time have conflicting thoughts and be an unreliable protagonist? Of course! But is that really what is going on? “Who’s blood is this” quickly becomes “who’s monsters are these?”
Part Rosemary’s Baby and part The Omen, the word becomes fresh by taking place in the past. A time when polite people don’t talk about those things. A time when women were at the mercy of men. When people hid their darker desires and even the known ones were only spoken of in whispers, if spoken at all.
Daphne has a new voice in her head that only she can hear, and a new face only she can see. Monsters, graveyards, and trips to hell blur the lines between reality and nightmares. Daphne’s new friend is the only one who listens. It no longer matters if he is real, his intentions no longer matter, it is a desperately needed ear.
As the story progresses reality becomes worse than the nightmares. Manipulations and people’s true intentions unravel. Demons and shadows who speak in riddles are now the only ones speaking the truth.
All of it drawn by an artist who made the Dark Knight gothic. Kelley Jones drafted a Batman that looked inked by night itself. A perfect choice to bring this gaslight and gaslighting tale from script to panel. The darkness, the isolation, the fear, the fire, all of it with the same type of cinematic quality that wins major awards despite being horror (then they pretend isn’t horror come Best Picture time).
To know more is to reveal too much of the story. Your heart will break for everything Daphne must go through over the six issues collected in this graphic novel. Yet there is a feeling this story may not be over, and it wont go well for many.