Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Freaks of the Heartland by Steve Niles

This story was not what I had expected from Steve Niles.  If you are not familiar with his work – they are usually violent, horrific stories.  So one about freaks living in the sticks made me think I was picking up something similar to House of 1000 corpses.

Instead what I got was a sweet story about two brothers.  Set in the country in a non-descript time (feels old fashioned but there are little things that make me wonder) Steve Niles has woven a tale that is more haunting than anything else he has written.

Trevor has to help take care of his brother Will, who has been chained up in the barn.  Like a good older brother, Trevor watches out for Will.  Late at night they sneak out to enjoy the fields and moonlight.  However, one night he returns to hear his father talk about how he should have killed Will when he was born.  Will manages to steal away his father’s pistol. 

The next day, a neighbor comes to tell how they will have to kill their daughter.  Trevor’s father decides it’s time – the monsters must go.  Trevor and Will escape but they can’t leave the valley without rescuing the others like Will.

It’s not an overly deep story but the journey the boys go on carried me away.  I wanted to know more at the end.  I would have loved answers but there were none given.  But that didn’t make me love the story less.

The drawings are soft and subtle.  The muted colors would have normally irritated me but I found they worked well with this story.  It added to the timeless feel to the story as if it had been tinted with sepia.  I do think this is one I’d love to revisit time and again, hoping to find more in each panel, each subtle phrase.

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