Hallows Fell, the latest offering from writer Thom Burgess whose previous graphic novels Malevolents – Click Click and The Eyrie both gave us bad dreams for a fortnight, is yet another slash of shuddery nastiness. Inspired by the very real legend of the hitchhiking spectre of Kent’s Blue Bell Hill, it’s the story of a boorish soon-to-be bridegroom whose journey home goes from bad to worse when he encounters the apparition of a vengeful blood-spattered bride… and that’s only the beginning of his nightmare. This story has a particularly ugly (but satisfying) sting in the tail and, unlike many other ghost stories of its ilk, there is no hope for redemption in sight.
Click Click and The Eyrie were both very slow-burn horrors which took their time to get going, but Hallows Fell plays out like one of the better episodes of the old Hammer House of Horror TV series. From the moment the instantly dislikeable city wanker Simon realises all the trains are cancelled and then falls asleep in the back of the taxi, eventually to find himself stranded in deep dark woods in the middle of nowhere, we know exactly what lies ahead. But Burgess and illustrator Izzy Stanic, whose shadowy and intensely cinematic artwork packs genuine monochrome power, ply their gruesome trade so compellingly that it doesn’t matter if we can already guess what comes next. Like Simon, we’re buckled in for the ride from the very first frame.
In his brief introduction, film director Corin Hardy (The Hallow and The Nun) describes Thom Burgess as “a folkloric force of graphic novel nature” and that’s undoubtedly a very accurate description. Burgess is a writer who understands the mechanics of horror and knows how to get under the reader’s skin within the opening seconds, and he’s adept at working with illustrators who share the same talent. Hallows Fell is the perfect ghost story for Christmas, but when you’ve finished reading it make sure you place it on a very high shelf. If the unwary reader ever gets hold of this, they’ll spend 2018 in therapy.
HALLOWS FELL / WRITER: THOM BURGESS / ARTIST: IZZY STANIC / PUBLISHER: BIG CARTEL / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW