Opening in Sicily in 1895 we start at the site of the latest archaeological dig at the island’s volcano and while we work in closer & closer to the crew as they work – it’s the descent into the volcano itself that begins to set the uneasy scene. The narrative from the head of the dig Edward Francis reveals a typical English explorer working with the locals to further human discovery.
Some well constructed banter between Edward & the Italian workers builds that sense of discovery that we’ve lost a grip of in our high-tech world so this gives the title a hint of a nostalgic vibe. The discovery of a new chamber in the belly of the Volcano is the trigger for all hell to break loose……and I mean that literally. Taking plaster casts of their discoveries seems a good way of seeing what they discovered more clearly but the gruesome & grotesque figures they see before them is the beginning of the end.
A massive amount of casualties and a few accidents later and we’re down to the Edwards final letter marking as a warning and revelation that they’ve at least contained the evil they discovered……or have they. Quite a strong set of characters on this and one first reading I wasn’t sure if felt too short but a second reading seemed to help me immerse myself in it more and grasp the finer details set out by John-Paul. The art from Conor Boyle manages to capture the scale of the site and the claustrophobic caverns that seem to close in with each discovery they make. Those images above show at least some of the strength as the dark & light of the artwork match the good & evil themes in the book.
That combination of well-paced narrative, suitable shocks and artwork to match makes this an intriguing read and makes me hope that there’s more than just this one-shot form the pair. The heaven & hell parts are always going to indicate a religious undertone but the fight of good vs evil is far more universal than that which this title definitely is.
Unearth will be launching at this weekends MCM in London (22nd-24th) so you can get a copy there.