Review: Haunting Refrain #1

I have to say that this book was nothing that expected, everything that I expected and somehow more than what I expected. I know none of that really makes sense, but that’s really the best way I can describe my feelings towards it. It surprised me and sucked me in to the point that I was paying attention to each and every page looking to unlock the next piece of the puzzle. The story kicks off with a ghost story about August Quentin the town undertaker. This story is there to set up our ghost story and to establish the evolution of ghost stories that are passed down generation after generation working its way further from the truth. We cut to modern-day and meet Bongo a drummer in a rock band. The next day after tiring of rehearsal Bongo heads home to find a note on his door to call home. He does and his friend Allen answers the phone. In the next scene we see Bongo at his father’s funeral. After the funeral Bongo gets sucked back into the small town he fought so hard to leave. It begins at the local bar Cage Inn where Bongo reunites with his longtime friends Allen, Casie, Farley and Ernie. Allen was his father’s lawyer and after catching up tells him to come over to his office to discuss things.

After the bar closes, the four guys begin walking home and pass the old Quentin house. They throw rocks at the windows and act like scared little boys around the place, but little does Bongo know that his destiny is tied to the old house. He makes his way to his father’s house and walks through memory lane checking all of the little things that make a home a home, but remind Bongo that nothing really changes in this town. The next day Bongo heads to Allen’s office and finds out that his dad fucked him and didn’t leave him any money. Worse yet, if Bongo doesn’t finish the housing project his dad started he’s going to be fucked even more, but wait… it gets worse. He’s also the new owner of the Quentin house.

Haunting Refrain -review-1This is one of the best ghost stories I think I’ve ever read. It’s not a horror story which is what a lot of people assume when they read the word “ghost”, but this story is actually more of a mystery thriller. The Quentin house begins to engulf Bongo’s life and the more he discovers the more he wants to solve the mystery of the house and its original builders Mr. and Mrs. Quentin. In a way he’s working his way back through the generations of ghost stories surrounding the house until he finds the truth.

It’s a page turner and quite effective in keeping you on the edge of your seat while reading it. The charm of the writing is that you don’t know what’s going to happen because it’s intelligently layering the mystery and giving fake clues in the form of ghost stories. There’s a lot of loss to deal with in the story and the overall mood is very dark, but that’s also what makes the writing so good; everyone can relate to some aspect of this story if they think about it.

The art style complements the story very well. The test or guideline I use for the art when reviewing is if the story can tell the story on its own after I’ve read it. If I can go back through ignore all of the dialog and captions and still decipher what’s happening in the story. Obviously I have the benefit of reading it already, but there are plenty of times that I’ve caught a scene or a page and had to read the dialog to remember or understand what I’m looking at. Honestly if you read this book a second time I would recommend not reading the dialog as it makes it spookier and still conveys the same story. The art is great and the coloring the perfect match.

This was a very rewarding read and kind of gave me an itch for reading more suspenseful ghost stories. While this story is a standalone issue, I hope that creators will reteam for another installment following different characters and a new ghost. While it’s a supernatural tale, there are plenty of real emotions that this story hits upon that will suck you in until the very last page. This was a fantastic read and considering the page count of 100 plus pages, well worth the price. The book isn’t out yet so be sure to pre-order it from your local comic shop.

Score: 5/5

Writer: Greg M. Smith

Artist: Ulises Carpintero

Publisher: Committed Comics

Price: $7.99

Release Date: Fall, 2013 Diamond Preview Number: JUL130979