Hannah Berry - Adamtine (4 stars)

Hannah Berry - Adamtine

A disconcerting horror comic from the creator of Britten and Brülightly

British graphic novelist Hannah Berry’s near-perfect debut, Britten and Brülightly, was a detective yarn inspired by Graham Greene and Carol Reed. But the familiar post-war milieu was given a surreal comic twist with the inclusion of a character that was a talking teabag. Berry’s follow-up is also a very knowing take on a familiar genre – modern horror – and once again it confounds expectations, here with a genuinely unsettling tale of the inexplicable.

The action takes place aboard a train that comes to an unexplained stop between stations in the middle of nowhere and deep into the night. As the handful of disturbed travellers attempt to make sense of what’s going on, the characters’ back-stories are revealed in a series of narrative flashbacks. All of this takes place during the aftermath of the trial, acquittal and subsequent disappearance of a suspected serial killer named Rodney Moon.

Berry’s elliptical narrative ensures the meaning of what’s going on remains enjoyably elusive and much of Adamtine’s pleasure lies in how disconcerting it all is. The tricky narrative, however, is nicely counterbalanced by Berry’s clear and carefully detailed illustrations, and a deceptively simple visual style that keeps the storytelling on solid ground, even when things take an alarming turn for the weirder.

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