Harrow County, from writer Cullen Bunn and artist Tyler Crook, takes us back to the times of small family farms and witch burnings. Removed from the Puritanical settings of the Crucible, Harrow County opens on a torch-wielding mob in pastoral Appalachia. Appreciation turns to apprehension when a mysterious female healer’s gifts exact reciprocity. They can turn a blind eye when livestock begin to die in waves if that means healing the sick and dying. But once they learn more of her strange congress with dark entities and the unspeakable sacrifices she made to gain her powers, they make the decision to put her to the torch. Aside from the dark secret that the elders of the town bear afterward, quiet stability returns.
That is, until one of the mob member’s daughter, Emmy, cradles a tumor-ridden dying calf in her arms only for it to inexplicably return to perfect health. Once more of her father’s chicken and cows die, an uneasy tension rises throughout the town. The same cycle of healing and death returns as it did in the times of the witch. The young girl appears to be on the verge of serving as a proxy for the return of the slain witch who has something of a grudge to bear with the villagers who sentenced her to death.
Lost amid the bramble, Emmy is a young girl awakening to a much larger world. She has a vague awareness something has changed within her but it is still beyond concrete perception. Serving as her white rabbit, a small boy dashes away from her in the woods and leaves her to give chase. A symbolic underground labyrinth of briars welcomes her descent into the unknown. Lost in a tangle of thorns she finds only the boy’s skin, hanging from a branch like an empty coat. Rendered in evocative watercolors by Crook, the flayed final reveal is as horrific for the reader as it is for our protagonist, Emmy. We are on a dangerous voyage of self-discovery along with her. The dark secrets Harrow County has buried are rising—make sure you’re along for the ride.