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THE HOUSE OF LOST HORIZONS: A SARAH JEWELL MYSTERY #1 [Advance Review]

THE HOUSE OF LOST HORIZONS: A SARAH JEWELL MYSTERY #1/ Created by MIKE MIGNOLA/ Script by CHRIS ROBERSON/ Art by LEILA DEL DUCA/ Color Art by MICHELLE MADSEN/ Letters by CLEM ROBINS/ Cover by CHRISTOPHER MITTEN/ Published by DARK HORSE COMICS

Up until the last few pages you wouldn’t know that The House of Lost Horizons #1 was tied to the world of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, if it weren’t for the brief blurb on the cover. Yet Sarah Jewell, our detective heroine, is a character who has appeared in earlier Hellboy stories as part of the Silver Lantern Club – a British occult society. Thankfully, we don’t need to know any of her previous background or anything about the Hellboy universe in order to enjoy The House of Lost Horizons.

Our story opens as Sarah Jewell and her companion Marie-Thérèse LaFleur arrive at the island estate of Sarah’s childhood friend to help appraise her recently deceased husband’s collection of arcane artifacts for auction. They arrive to find the friend’s lawyer has died mysteriously in a locked room and there is no way of contacting the outside world thanks to a storm taking out the phone line and the radio transmitter. Naturally the rest of the island’s guests are a suspicious lot of memorable characters; all of whom have secrets of their own to hide.

This might be considered a tad trite, but Roberson’s script things keeps lively until the end, where it spoils little to reveal that there may be a supernatural element to the killing. The story then takes a turn towards the weird, with Sarah having unusual dreams that seem more appropriate to the writings of H.P. Lovecraft than an Agatha Christie heroine. The change is not jarring, however, and Roberson does a masterful job of blending the two genres.

Artist Leila Del Duca manages a similar balancing act. There is a sense of motion throughout the book, despite this first chapter being comprised largely of static scenes of people talking. Yet Del Duca manages to portray these scenes equally as well as the more horrific scenes which come towards the end. The color art by Michelle Madsen is vibriant and variant, with well-chosen palettes throughout.

Fans of both cosmic horror and cozy mysteries will find a lot to enjoy in The House of Lost Horizons. Even readers whose tastes don’t gravitate towards one genre or the other may find this one interesting enough to be worth a read. And it goes without saying that Hellboy fans will love this one.

The House of Lost Horizons: A Sarah Jewell Mystery #1 releases on May 12, 2021.

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