At her father’s deathbed, Orlaigh Roche came face to face with the age-old myth of The Slaugh; a group of soul-stealing spirits so evil that not even hell would take them. Years later, and with the belief that her father’s soul is still trapped in some form of the netherworld, she goes looking for answers – beginning a journey that leads her down a path to discover what really happens to us after we die.
The Hunt is a urban fantasy about Orla, a girl who had witnessed creatures called Slaugh taking her father’s soul on his deathbed. Now, a decade later, she is being followed around by changelings, who want her to help them out for something, and meanwhile, she is still searching for her father’s stolen soul. The main crux of the story is this power struggle between the fairies, the changelings and the Slaugh, and while the story doesn’t go into much detail about it, she has some role to play that involves her being able to help the Slaugh gain a foothold into the mortal world. But that is mostly conjecture on my part, because this five chapter graphic novel leaves me with more questions than answers at the end.
The mood of The Hunt is very dark and horror-like, and if you love Irish mythology, this one is a treat with it plumbing the darker undertones of those myths. It brings in the changelings as they walk among us, hidden but still dangerous, and not visible to everyone. Orla and her grandmother definitely have some spiritual powers, as they are able to cast spells, but nothing explains the netherworld’s connections to the family, yet. Along with this paranormal element, another concurrent storyline is that of the cops (or at least one cop in particular) investigating the strange events in their family, and the multiple disappearances of Orla throughout the years, and now the disappearance of her younger brother. The latter is important because he is a secret of Orla’s and her grandmother’s, as they did something that was hidden from the netherworld. Basically, it has a multi-layered arc and a pervasive sense of danger that hovers.
As for the artwork, it is one of the best I have come across for a graphic novel of this length. It is beautifully rendered and detailed, and the whimsical strokes of the fairies and the harsh and cruel deformities of the changelings and the Slaugh are both crafted wonderfully. Even the human parts of the story are done with loving detail, and some scenes just awed me with their lineart. It is, overall, very dark in the book all the time, though, so I can never figure out if it is day or night *laughs*. In any case, the artwork definitely has me in love and even though I usually prefer stories like these in prose (as they would be more detailed), I feel it works in this medium too.
Overall, a very interesting urban fantasy story with some delightfully dark artwork. If only some elements of the plot and the backstories were better explained, this book would have been perfect.
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Image Comics, via Edelweiss.