Maybe you haven’t heard about “Rachel Rising.” Maybe you have, but think it couldn’t possibly live up to the hype. Maybe, maybe, maybe. It doesn’t really matter why you aren’t reading “Rachel Rising” (and sales numbers indicate you probably aren’t). This is what’s important: You should be.
Written and Illustrated by Terry Moore
Rachel Beck wakes in a shallow grave and claws her way free as a mysterious woman watches from a bluff. With no memory of the night before, Rachel enlists the help of Aunt Johnny, the town mortician, to find her killer. but when repeated attacks send her to the morgue, Rachel’s ability to wake from death again and again prove to be a blessing and a curse, and the eerie town of Manson will never be the same!
120 pages / $16.99
Normally, this is where a short plot summary would be. Why isn’t it here, you ask? Two reasons. Reason the first, the above solicitation is pretty accurate. Reason the second, there is so much story packed into these pages that no “short” summary could do it justice. Moore doesn’t waste any space here; every page pushes the narrative forward at a pace which is equal parts breath-takingly fast and gut-wrenchingly slow. Questions are raised and hints are dropped quick enough to make “Rachel Rising” rewarding to multiple reads, and you’ll need to go back because you’ll be in such a hurry to find out what happens next that you’re guaranteed to miss something the first time.
Why will you be in such a hurry? Because this is a horror book of the finest kind. Not the modern kind of horror filled with blood, gore, and shaky cameras. It’s a classic horror which understands the value of the slow burn. “Rachel Rising” is less scary, more unsettling. There’s supernatural evil afoot, but its ways are subtle. Every character with a talking role is given depth, and Moore delivers it with effortless dialogue, saying volumes about the speakers without actually giving any exposition. In this volume, most of the damage is done by manipulation and subterfuge, not by overt action. The anticipation will keep you riveted, and the last page delivers a WHOA moment that’ll leave you wishing you’d already bought the second volume. So, don’t frustrate yourself, go ahead and buy both of ’em.
If you’re unfamiliar with Moore’s art, you’re in for a treat. Using very few lines and no color at all, he delivers some stunning art and demonstrates a mastery of both the human form and human emotion. Of course, that’s no surprise from the man who literally wrote the book on how to draw expressions. “Rachel Rising” is almost entirely black and white, featuring only a small amount of gray scale for effect. Sometimes, especially with a glossy paper, books with this format suffer for it, looking flat and jumbled. Here, the paper and ink quality combine in a way which prevents the lines from contrasting too sharply, preserving the depth of the images. Moore’s mastery of the craft is also evident in his inking. By carefully controlling the width of his lines, he’s able to keep every person and object distinct. Despite not having cues from color or shadow, you will never need to question if something is in the foreground or background, or if a line belongs to this object or that one.
The first volume of the series collects the first six issues, and retails for seventeen dollars. As single issues, the content was originally worth eighteen, so there is a slight discount for tradewaiters. The chapters blend together seamlessly, so the collected content feels like it belongs under one cover.
There is one thing you should know about “Rachel Rising” before you jump into it, though: this first volume (and the ones after it) are not full stories. There isn’t any mini-arc that gets wrapped up at the end, and the sixth issue doesn’t end on a cliffhanger any more or less than any other issue. THIS ISN’T A BAD THING! This is a direct symptom of the kind of story “Rachel Rising” is: an epic storyline which is too busy telling a fantastic tale to trouble itself with conforming to cookie-cutter segments. Though the running length of the series hasn’t been divulged (to my knowledge), there is a planned ending for “Rachel Rising”, and Moore is working towards it at the pace that’s right for the book.
There’s only one reason for you not to be reading “Rachel Rising” right now: After it’s over, it will be released in some nice hard cover editions. But, come on. Don’t wait.
Final Verdict: 9.5 Buy it. Love it. Share it.