146. Salem Brownstone by John Harris Dunning

Salem Brownstone: All Along the Watchtowers by John Harris Dunning. Art by Nikhil Singh (US) - (Canada)

Pages: 96 pages
Ages: 15+
Finished: July 26, 2010
First Published: July 13, 2010 US ( Oct. 2009 UK)
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Genre: YA, graphic novel, gothic, paranormal
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

There are those who love the rum and unusual, the uncanny, the macabre.

Acquired: Received a review copy from the publisher.

Reason for Reading: I was immediately taken with the publisher's eerie plot summary.

This is a beautiful book. Oversized like a large picture book with decorated cloth covered boards, it feels like a treasure in your hands. Upon opening the book, the story grips you right away as if something by Poe. Then turn the page where the artwork starts and immediately Gory comes to mind and the further one gets into the story with the mixture of art and text there is a very strong Tim Burton vibe going and I actually started imaging the story being filmed with Johnny Depp as Salem Brownstone. The artwork is truly masterful. Each frame is so detailed, this book could take many readings and each reading would reveal something you had missed the previous times through. How do I describe the art? Outlandish, eerie, macabre, bizarre and just outright fiendishly freakish (in a good way!).

Salem Brownstone, a grown man, who hasn't seen his father since he was six receives a telegram that his father has died and left him his mansion and the contents and he must come claim it ASAP that evening at 9pm. Upon arrival Salem finds an old creepy Victorian house and notices a sign announcing a circus nearby. Once inside he discovers his father was a magician and dons the cape, when he hears a noise. As he investigates he happens upon Cassandra Contortionist who has been waiting for him. She has a scrying orb that belonged to his father that she must pass on to him. She takes him down to the circus for further explanation and it is here he learns that he must take over his father's role in keeping the world safe from the evil creatures of another dimension.

This is a macabre story and certainly not going to be for everyone but if you like Poe or Lovecraft then this will be along your tastes. The atmosphere is very dark and heavy, the story is very creepy and when you think you've seen it all something even creepier happens. I was engrossed with the story and the whole book itself. A wonderful Hallowe'en read. From the ending, there are hints that Salem may appear in a sequel.

Watch the trailer for a sample of the amazing artwork!


  1. The first sentence is an absolute teaser.

  2. You've sold me - I really want to read this book now!

  3. This looks excellent thanks for the recommendation.

  4. I'll have to add this to my list for the next RIP challenge. Sounds great!


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