In horror, any writer can go through the standard list of monsters, such as vampires, ghosts, Frankenstein-made monsters, and craft their own unique story from them. There are, however, a multitude of monsters that simply haven’t gotten as much exposure (or overexposure) as, say, fast and/or slow zombies. One creature that deserves more love is the Mothman, a bizarre creature of Appalachian folklore that brings to mind deserted country roads and the distinct flapping of monstrous wings. Luckily, there are some good Mothman stories if one knows where to look. One such story is Silk Hills, a Mothman-centered mystery full of offbeat nightmare images.

Silk Hills is a lot like many tourist towns that have a local legend, but it has also seen better days. Once a thriving town, the only trades that make money now are selling Mothman merchandise and psychotropic moth dust, which is the center of the local drug trade. It is here that Beth Wills, a war veteran and private detective, has come to find a business owner’s son. She soon discovers that Silk Hills isn’t like other towns. Along with the moth dust drug trade, there are other animals unique to the area, like deer that might be hunting you instead of the other way around, and of course, there’s the Mothman.

Readers who are fans of supernatural strangeness will find a lot they love about writers Ryan Ferrier and Brian Level’s story. It’s a standard tale of a stranger entering a small town and suddenly finding themselves in over their head. But having Beth as the main protagonist means she will guide the readers through this strange place while also bringing along her own emotional baggage, from her disintegrating love life to moments of PTSD. There are some real internal struggles going on within Beth that are just as fierce as the supernatural and human protagonists who want to keep Silk Hills’ secrets secret.

Kate Sherron’s artwork serves Ferrier’s and Level’s story well. The figures aren’t really drawn in a realistic way one sees in a lot of horror comics, their shapes befitting more of a Saturday Morning cartoon, but Silk Hills is a place, and a graphic novel, that is always slightly askew. Many times the book segues into nightmare territory where the environment and the people in it twist like taffy (even the deer that permeate the book are not immune to becoming nightmare fodder). The psychotropic properties of the moth dust allows Silk Hills to melt and warp into funhouse mirror reflections, even as it draws heavily on hallucinations/symbolism to keep the reader guessing as to what is real, what is not, and which images are up to interpretation.

This book will definitely appeal to fans of X-Files and Twin Peaks, television shows full of paranormal mysteries and stomach-tightening unease, even as it deals with some very adult issues like economic hardships and PTSD. This might even be a book tailor-made for rural libraries with a dedicated horror fanbase, which might be rare. However, somebody has to be out there buying Mothman merchandise and they might just enjoy a trip to the strange and wonderful town of Silk Hills.

Silk Hills
By Ryan Ferrier, Brian Level
Art by Kate Sherron
Oni Press, 2022
ISBN: 9781637150382

Publisher Age Rating: O for older audiences

NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (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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