Skottie Young and Jorge Corona, the creative team of Middlewest, conceived a Gothic romance about an artist who retreats to an old house to devote time to painting and discovers an otherworldly muse in the haunted house.
Ro is an acclaimed artist, who is taking a break to create new paintings for an upcoming art show. She rents a large Victorian home, although it is rumored to be haunted. She actually hopes it is, thinking it might be an inspiration for her paintings. And soon enough a spirit appears, but we see before she does, that it is malevolent. At first, the spirit seems shapeless, but after time is able to take on a tall dark form, eventually becoming corporeal, as he becomes intimate with Ro in a disturbing moment. While Ro is captivated by the spirit, this spirit becomes obsessed with her, preventing her from leaving the house. Her art agent becomes concerned as Ro has secluded herself away for too long and visits her home to check in. The spirit does not take kindly to the friend’s intrusion, and chaos and horror erupt.
As Young and Corona did with Middlewest, a dark theme is juxtaposed against a cartoony art style, but soon enough the story transcends the art. A moody Gothic vibe is established in the rambling old home with gloomy hues and exaggerated features. As Ro struggles with artist’s block, the evil spirit is able to manipulate her into trusting him and says everything she wants to hear, as he slowly tightens his hold on her life. An evocative scene with the spirit showing her hundreds of old paintings, many of them depicting women, made me wonder how many other women he had seduced in the years prior. Ro clues in late to her lover’s intentions, and another chapter would have been helpful in fleshing out the tale.
After Ro battles for her life, an ambiguous ending concludes the narrative, effectively making you wonder if the spirit lives on, ready to wreak havoc in someone else’s life. This story was an interesting mash-up of toxic relationships and horror, and I found it to be an enjoyably creepy read.