Caitlin Kittredge’s graphic novel Coffin Hill Volume 1: Forest of the Night reads like a movie. As I turned the pages and absorbed the story and images, the film unspooled in my head. There was even a soundtrack—I don’t remember what it was, but it was definitely something with one of those beats that keeps raising the anxiety level on part of the reader.
The story is very familiar in so many ways. I watched a lot of good movies growing up, and a lot of B movies too (not really different in my mind, but I know some people really like to keep those two camps separate). Forest of the Night reads like a mashup of a B cop movie, B horror movie, and something John Hughes would have done. Although the territory is familiar, Kittredge manages to stake her claim on her own territory and turn it into something different and intriguing.
Inaki Mirada’s art drenches the pages in darkness and ups the fear factor of the story. The work is unique, and he’s just as versatile in delineating worlds as Kittredge is.
I enjoy Eve Coffin’s character and am sympathetic to everything she’s gone through, as a police officer and as a young person growing up in the shadow of Coffin Hill. The two storylines—past and present—crash together in the final pages of this graphic novel like two trains headed for the same switch point at the same time.
There’s a lot of angsty memories and relationships spread out through the pages, and lots of twists and turns as well. Somehow Kittredge transitions between cop work and witch lore easily, making both worlds jagged and edgy, too interwoven to take apart.
Coffin Hill hides a big mystery, but there are a lot of little (but highly lethal!) puzzles along the way. Eve is an emotionally damaged character who is easy to sympathize with, and she’s driven to get to the core of the mysteries now that she’s been drawn back.
Kittredge has created a great ensemble of characters here to play with, filled a town with people, and in all likelihood is going to expand on both. I’ve enjoyed my first tour through the town and its history, and I’m looking forward to more.