The House of Lost Horizons: A Sarah Jewell Mystery #1

by Nick Devonald on May 11, 2021

Writer: Chris Roberson
Artist: Leila Del Duca
Colours: Michelle Madsen
Letters: Clem Robins

The first issue of The House of Lost Horizons sets up that classic locked room, murder mystery, whodunit case for our titular hero and her associate Marie-Thérèse LaFleur, albeit one set in the Mignolaverse. Our heroines have been invited to a remote island by an old friend, Lilian, but when they arrive they find themselves completely cut off from civilisation and with a body on their hands. Then all the perfect ingredients for a murder mystery come into play. A group of disparate characters have arrived for an occult auction before the discovery of Lilian's lawyer’s body. Most of this first issue is spent introducing our cast of suspects, all of whom have the potential to be murderers, and setting up the rest of the series. It’s clear that each of these characters have their own goals and motivations, and investigating these over the course of the series is sure to be a delight.

For readers who are unsure of just who Sarah Jewell or Marie-Thérèse LaFleur are, they are characters from the larger Mignolaverse who have made a few appearances over the years, with this series being their first role in their own title. Sarah has a history with Edward Grey, Witchfinder, appearing in ‘Witchfinder: Reign of Darkness’. And the duet of Sarah and Marie-Thérèse turned up together in ‘The Rise of the Black Flame’, as well as brief appearances in Hellboy Winter Specials. But none of these are essential reading to understand the character, Chris Roberson handles their introduction deftly and it reads as if this is the first introduction to the characters.

It’s nice to see that, despite an ending to the main Mignolaverse, that the history is still being fleshed out. Between Edward Grey and Lobster Johnson there is still a lot of story to tell, and now we have Sarah Jewell in the mix as well. The Mignolaverse is such a rich tapestry of untapped mythology just begging to be explored. These stories are great because they always stand on their own two feet, but for fans of Hellboy they play a part in fleshing out the history of the world. And it’s not a stretch to assume that some of the occult items on auction here will either be already familiar to readers, or will have a larger role to play after this series is done. However it unfolds it’s sure to delight Mignola fans.

Leila Del Duca does a fantastic job with the art, filling the cast of mysterious characters with guilty looks and suspicious glances, making everyone seem like a potential suspect. The facial expressions the characters wear are perfectly done though, and as integral a part of the story telling as Roberson’s writing. Whether it’s just the determined look on Marie-Thérèse’s face as she goes off to interrogate a suspect, or the horror on Lillian’s face when she discovered the dead lawyer, they’re all expertly brought to life and look stunning. Michelle Madsen’s colours look fantastic as always, and she’s fast becoming a staple of the Mignolaverse.

An exciting first issue in a classic murder mystery with flavours of Agatha Christie, this is an intriguing new chapter within the Mignolaverse, with two heroines whose rich history is dying to be told. It works as a standalone chapter too, so no previous knowledge of the characters or Hellboy’s larger universe is necessary. Stunning art filled with suspicious glances and guilty expressions really accentuates the murder mystery. Not to be missed.

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