Writer: Pornsak Pichetshote
Artist: Aaron Campbell
Colourist & Editor: Jose Villarrubia
Letterer & Designer: Jeff Powell
The basic gist of Infidel is that it is a haunted house story, but honestly it’s way more than that. It’s a story about racism, about family and about friendship. It’s a very modern tale with modern themes and reading it certainly makes an impact. This is horror that says something about the society we live in and asks questions about what we want that society to be. This is horror that makes you think and that is what I love about it.
Our protagonist is Aisha, a young American-Muslim woman who has moved into an apartment building with her white non-Muslim husband, Tom, his daughter and his mother. Aisha’s not been sleeping well and we discover there are entities in the building that feed on torment and hate. Aisha is the main target and she finds her life spinning out of control as the entities feed the hatred around her.
There’s a heck of a lot of tension between the main characters as the entities threaten the polite veneer that racism does indeed hide behind. There is at times as much horror from what’s going on with the humans as with the demonic entities feeding the distrust and hate. It’s a really neat way of inserting these themes into a horror book. There’s some really strong character work here.
That’s true too of Aisha and her best friend Medina. Their friendship really helps underpin everything and provides some really emotional moments. It’s so nice to see a really strong female friendship and theirs really delivers. It’s well worth reading for their friendship alone.
However, we’re here for horror and there is plenty of it. There’s twists and turns as the nature of the entities is revealed. There’ also death, lots of death and gore and violence. Which you expect from horror to be sure, but there’s a real shocking element to a lot as just as you think the characters have things figured out along comes something else to shake things up. It really keeps you on your toes as a reader.
Needless to say the art is excellent. The way the entities are depicted is suitably grotesque and strange. The overlapping of them in the world of the characters is really nicely done. They are drawn differently, shaded and coloured differently. It does make it seem like they are haunting, especially as Aisha is at first alone in the fact she sees them and others don’t. The juxtaposition of the entities in the art against the otherwise normal backdrop really gets across their alien nature but more than that their sheer terrifying nature.
The gore is there but it never feels excessive. There’s some brutal death and the violence and blood is not shied away from, as is the case for all good horror books, but it is never gore for the sake of it. It’s there to show the real horror. Throughout there’s always this sense of what is lurking beneath and the art builds on that idea and runs with it.
The different perspectives, what is real, what is not, and what we perceive is so well expressed in the art. There are panels giving close-ups of horrific things and also key moments. Other times the panels create a real sense of confusion, as felt by the characters. At times the art stays the same which makes the appearance of the entities all the more shocking when it does happen as they stand out. It’s like a jump scare in art and so effective. There’s also some really excellent use of shadow and light to help build atmosphere and tension.
I would definitely recommend Infidel, it’s a series that is more than a typical haunted house book. It will make you think. There’s a strong emotional core, characters whose fates will affect you and a setting full of scares. Infidel is the perfect horror for the present day and will likely remain relevant for a long time to come.