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Book Review: Death Follows by Cullen Bunn

Death Follows is unapologetically dark. Based on the title and cover art, I expected this, but it even surprised me. Having never read Mr. Bunn’s work before (this graphic novel is based upon a short story), I went into the tale not knowing what to expect. I left feeling unsettled because of it, so I’ll refrain from many spoilers here. Some will be unavoidable, however, so be warned.

Still with me? Good. The basic outline of the story looks something like this. On a farm in rural North Carolina, a farmer, his pregnant wife, and two young daughters do their best to live a happy life taking care of their animals and crops and school work. Until Cole arrives, wandering alone down their empty road, looking for work. To the girls, he looks frightening. To their father, he looks like a man down on his luck.

Well, all is not as it should be with Mr. Cole and before long, the dead, literally, start stirring. It starts small but Death Follows quickly expands into a full-blown rural horror.

I enjoy the stories like this, those that don’t rely on gore so much as the unseen; stories that lean on terror instead of torture and the easy gross-out. Death Follows doesn’t disappoint there. And once things take a turn for the creepy, they don’t let go.

The writing of Cullen Bunn is well done. I read the relatively short graphic novel in two sittings and didn’t want to put it down either time. There is a sense of foreboding that supersedes even the supernatural elements, which is answered in a culminating ending that is unexpected and, frankly, packs a punch. Many horror stories pull the punch and let the reader sit a little easier knowing that the evil is settled. Death Follows pulls no such punch. When the story ends, you’re left feeling slightly ravaged.

Which, quite honestly, has kept me thinking about Death Follows long after I would have moved on. from most other stories. It is brave in its unflinching willingness to make you stare into its black pool. I don’t know if its possible to enjoy an ending like this because I don’t think enjoy is the right word. But good horror leaves you with that lingering unsettledness that has you questioning what you just read.

Death Follows does that. I would not recommend this book for the squeamish and would caution anyone that Death here really doesn’t let up. But if that doesn’t scare you away, there’s a good that this might be a book you would enjoy.

 

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