People of a certain age might remember sitting in front of their televisions or going to their local cinemas and watching some horror anthology series. Rather than one complete narrative, these series usually featured a collection of stories that all ended with some kind of gory or terrifying twist. They might be connected by one overarching story, but the stories themselves could vary in tone and even quality. DC’s new foray into horror utilizes this format while connecting itself to the latest movie in The Conjuring franchise. However, DC Horror Presents The Conjuring: The Lover can claim itself a prequel to the movie The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, but it owes way more to those classic horror anthology series of the past.

The main story, written by David L. Johnson-McGoldrick and Rex Ogle, focuses on young Jessica who is having a tough time adjusting to college life. Not only does Jessica miss her best friend, she feels a supernatural presence following her, one that is making her paranoid as well as isolating her from friends and family with terrifying results. Along with the main story, there are small stories focused on the artifacts found in the artifact room of Ed and Lorraine Warren, the protagonists of The Conjuring series. These stories, written by popular comic writers like Scott Snyder and Tim Seeley, range from tales of cursed music boxes to a wedding dress with a dark history.

One problem with anthology series featuring different writers and creators is the quality of each story typically ends up uneven; there might be some good stories sprinkled among the lackluster ones. However, the stories, both the main tale and the multiple artifact stories, are all pretty solid. Johnson-McGoldrick and Ogle’s story is a textbook example of slow burn that comes dangerously close to too slow for many readers, but the writers give Jessica enough layers and create enough of a sense of tragedy that she garners the readers’ sympathies. The other stories make use of their limited space and tell complete, forceful narratives that deliver sickeningly satisfying twists.

Garry Brown’s artwork in the main story feels very familiar to fans of the Conjuring movie series, with long panoramic views of rooms where Jessica is in one corner and something sinister is hiding in the other corner, which is draped in shadow. The artwork in the Artifact stories, though done by varying artists like Denys Cowen and Kelley Jones, all rely on slight variations of a realistic, painted style that makes the book almost feel like a Vertigo comic from the 1980’s. But what really plunges this book into bloody nostalgia are the spoof ads scattered throughout, all of them presenting the dark humor of many of those shows the overall book draws from.

Though this book says it connected to the Conjuring, serving as a prequel of sorts, it is in the most tangential way. Many of the stories in this book could simply stand alone in a horror anthology.This book is not only for adult horror fans, but for horror fans that fondly remember anthology series (or are younger and just now discovering them). If they are checking out DVDs of Creepshow and Tales from the Darkside, this would be a great recommended read.

DC Horror Presents: The Conjuring: The Lover
By Katie Kubert, Editor
Art by  Steve Cook, Design Editor
DC, 2022
ISBN: 9781779515087Related media:  Comic to Movie

NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)

  • James

    | He/Him Circulation Librarian, Clark County Public Library

    Reviewer

    James Gardner is a Circulation Librarian at Clark County Public Library in Kentucky. Along with writing his own stories, he reviews horror for his own blog The Foreboding Home of the Scary Librarian and other places. But graphic novels are another love of his, having grown up loving Spider-Man and the X-Men. Reviewing graphic novels is a dream gig because the graphic novel is a medium that is full of great stories. One of the best things about being a librarian is always having an excuse to read graphic novels among other books, which is because readers’ advisory depends on reading books (while advising is the other half, of course). He also enjoys role-playing games, which is another opportunity for him to immerse himself in a story.

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