The Crossroads at Midnight

Iron Circus. Oct. 2020. 320p. pap. $18. ISBN 9781945820687.
Gr 7 Up–In this collection of five horror comics, readers’ worst fears are hiding in sun-choked stalks of corn, in the longing for rest after a long day, and even in the face of a new friend. Howard relies on a variety of subgenres; in “Mattress Found,” she uses body horror to reveal the difficulties and isolation of young adulthood. When a fatigued college student who can barely afford rent, let alone furnish her shared apartment, finds a used mattress on the curb, her happiness is short-lived as the mattress becomes more monster than amenity. “The Boy from the Sea” masterfully blends tragedy and supernatural elements, exploring a sibling relationship that quickly fragments when a mysterious boy promises to be the friend that the younger sister has always hoped for. Howard’s illustrations fill the page, plunging readers into her narrative. Dark, monotone etching magnifies the suspense and adds a sense of foreshadowing, though the scares won’t be too intense for horror newbies. Final pages include concept art from Howard’s early sketches.
VERDICT This anthology is immersive but horror lite, making it an excellent introduction to the genre. Recommended for fans of Joe Hill’s “Locke & Key” series.

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