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1140 Rue Royale: Nightmares & Fairytales Volume 3    by Serena Valentino & Crab Scrambly order for
1140 Rue Royale
by Serena Valentino
Order:  USA  Can
SLG, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

A decent horror story can be hard to come by in comics as much as film these days. Though horror has gained new life in comics with writers such as Steve Niles, his and others' work seems on the extreme end of the spectrum. Bloody, violent, gory, and downright vicious would all work well to describe such works. However, Serena Valentino and Crab Scrambly (one wonders if that is his real name) are onto something lighter in their graphic novel, Nightmares and Fairy Tales: 1140 Rue Royale.

Something is afoot at 1140 Rue Royale, but nobody seems to want to talk about it. Local folk chalk it up to a haunted house and ghosts seeking revenge, but surely that cannot be the case. Young Rebecca is not sure what to think as she and her elderly Aunt Victoria move into the large house in New Orleans. But no sooner do they settle in then strange things occur. Victoria begins seeing ghosts and having vivid dreams about the house's past residents. Soon Rebecca too is feeling the wrath of the house closing in on her. Innocent deaths need avenging and the ghosts are reaching out for help. While Victoria will have nothing to do with it, Rebecca is not as convinced and hesitates to abandon the restless spirits. Once the ghosts engage Rebecca, her curiosity and sense of duty send her down the road to solving the mystery, but she is unlikely to fully appreciate the results.

Valentino states in his Introduction that this graphic novel is a 'work of fiction inspired by historical events.' Unfortunately, she never clarifies those historical events. Regardless, she writes an intriguing mystery that hints at a Victorian style. Scrambly does an equally masterful job in illustrating this dark tale. His style invokes some of Tim Burton's cinematic work (Nightmare Before Christmas; The Corpse Bride), but still remains unique. The thin and misshapen characters, as well as the sole use of black and white, create an eerie atmosphere that helps propel the story. Scrambly relies often on silhouettes of characters in the foreground and background, further darkening (in a literal sense) the mood of the art.

Valentino and Scrambly deliver a great piece of speculative fiction that is as compelling as it is haunting. Their talents for narration and sequential art blend together to create a deliciously dark tale that oozes with as much interest as it does blood. One would not characterize the story as gory, but it certainly has its darker elements.

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