Select one of the keywords
Strange Embrace    by David Hine order for
Strange Embrace
by David Hine
Order:  USA  Can
Active Images, 2006 (2006)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

David Hine quickly draws in his audience to this dark and sober tale within the first fifteen pages and holds the attention through to the end. The story is revealed through the eyes of young delivery boy, Sukumar. Readers meet Alex, a strange and menacing young man who has an uncanny ability to penetrate minds. Sukumar bears witness to a testimony of sin that passes from one person to the next like a virus, leaving death and devastation in its wake.

Alex begins with his life story and explains how he became a collector of souls. He introduces Sukumar to his gallery of souls - people who died on account of his actions. As each soul is introduced, a new tale unravels that pieces together a morbid account of Alex's fledgling steps, vilifying his parents and terrorizing his schoolmates. Later on, he finds refuge in the home of Anthony Corbeau, a recluse renting rooms in his giant mansion. Corbeau is an antiques dealer with an extreme interest in African art. His wife committed suicide. The silent and solemn Corbeau piques Alex's interest and eventually he lays siege to Corbeau's mind, recording every piece he acquires in the form of a book. Alex's obsession leads him down a dark path into Corbeau's life, and into his own evil machinations. But why is Alex so insistent on telling his tale to young Sukumar?

Hine's title, Strange Embrace, underscores the sinewy interwoven pattern of relationships among characters within this sinister story. The souls pass the tale from one to the next like a torch, with each soul briefly connecting to the next as the story continues. Though Alex's ability to capture the minds of people could certainly be describe as a strange embrace, other more macabre strange embraces occur throughout the graphic novel.

The stark black and white coloring creates the haunting atmosphere Hine wishes to present. In truth, this is one of those graphic novels for which color would probably dissolve some of the intensity. Hine manipulates panels like a movie lens, zooming in and out to capture a myriad of nuances in facial expressions and gestures. At times, Hine's view takes on its own presence as the reader feels pushed to focus on details he or she would not naturally gravitate towards.

In the end, Strange Embrace coolly delivers an intense tale of sorrow, sin, and tragedy that has the atmosphere of an Edgar Allan Poe story along with the exotic supernaturalism of Stephen King. Hine's graphic novel proves to have the stuff that nightmares are made of.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Fantasy books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews