"Where the Witches Lurk" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Cat Bath Publishing
Originally published as Where the Witches Lurk #1 - #6
Written by Joe Pezzula
Illustrated by Donny Gandakusuma
2014, 156 Pages
Graphic novel released on April 26th, 2015
Every neighborhood has one house that's just creepy. You don't know who – or what – lives there. The lawn is all weird and probably overgrown. It's the house you skip while trick-or-treating, just to be on the safe side. There are a few houses like that in Haslow Falls, but there's a reason for it. Those houses are inhabited by witches. Sisters Tina and Gina have set out with their father to put an end to these broom-riding monsters. Things get serious when the girls' father is kidnapped by a Dark Witch, forcing the pair to step up their game.
Where the Witches Lurk has an undeniable hook. The first chapter pulls you in as you watch what looks like a run-of-the-mill census man get in over his head with a vile witch. This is followed by the introduction of Tina and Gina as seemingly innocent Girl Scouts. Suddenly the tables are turned, and the true nature of the characters is revealed, setting the stage for the rest of the series.
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The difficulty arrives when the mysterious Dark Witch starts to hatch her plan. The girls' father is abducted off camera while a big battle is going on between Gina and a strange floating mass of darkness. There are a couple of sub-plots that pop up around this point as well that don't add much to the overall storyline, like a variety of inept cops that are investigating the bizarre murders that have been happening around town.
In addition to this, there are a number of mysterious characters tossed in for good measure, most notably Sarah, a good witch that shows up to help the girls save their father. I figured she would turn out to be the girls' mother, but instead she's a witch from ages ago that's been battling this evil force for years. She just happened to swing by and help them out. She does fall into the motherly role for the two of them as the story progresses.
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Artist Donny Gandakusuma delivers an innocence to the design of Gina and Tina. The two girls are definitely wise beyond their years, but they still come across as totally normal little girls. This works especially well in the opening chapter.
Much of the evil in Where the Witches Lurk is seen as swirling gases, not unlike the Smoke Monster from LOST. There's an instant terror to this, as it's not something you can just fight. It can get into your lungs, strangling you from the inside. The book would have been rather anti-climactic if the girls just ran in and punched the Dark Witch in the face, so this was a nice touch.
Where the Witches Lurk has an interesting premise, but meanders a bit as the story progresses. Writer Joe Pezzula has created a vast mythology here. More importantly, he's made witches scary. This isn't just a pointed hat and a broom. This is a dark evil.