Written by: Cavan Scott
Art by: Corin Howell
Colouring by: Triona Farrell
Lettering by: Andworld Design
Editing by: Rebecca Taylor
Shadow Service is one of those books that combines both magic and horror. Magic and horror are really pretty perfect partners as they compliment each other so well. What is also added into the mix is mystery, action and a talking rat. All of the elements come together to create a book that has significant horrific aspects, but also has humour, reflection, friendships and interesting characters.
Our protagonist is Gina, a down on her luck PI type who has childhood trauma and wacky magic powers. She also has a friend who is a talking rat. She gets caught up with Section 26, or MI666 misfits with tragic backstories that involve dark magic mainly. It is MI666’s job to protect Britain from Supernatural threats of world ending proportions and there’s a fair amount of that going on.
There’s some really strong character work. We get to know Gina but also all of the supporting players and their disturbing pasts. As a result the cast of characters feels really well rounded. There’s Aashi (aka Wraith One) who is handy with a gun, Coyle (Wraith Two) who, well there’s no way to put this nicely, eats people (this is a Halloween rec), the mysterious young looking (and there’s a tragic reason for that) leader Hex, and Major Crookshanks who is not a cat but is just as hairy. The motives of these characters are left a little ambiguous, there are definite bad guys but the good guys also have some nice moral grey areas,
There’s some nice humour too. It’s not a book that’s dark and depressing, don’t get me wrong bad things happen and bad things happen to characters we care about, but there’s always a sliver of humour to prevent things getting too dark. Plus there’s some really great world building with magic having a cost. The more Gina uses it the more tired she gets. It’s a really neat idea and the magic itself leads to a really intriguing mystery regarding Gina.
The art is excellent. There’s a vast array of demons and other such bad things which are all excellently rendered in suitably scary and horrific ways. There’s also plenty of gore and blood which again is really nicely done. The way the magic is rendered is also really good. So much of the spectacle of the world is in the art. There’s some really clever panels too.
The lettering is also pretty darn good. There’s narration, several ‘human’ type characters, talking rats and demons and they all have distinctive voices.
Overall if you like a touch of horror with your magic I would highly recommend Shadow Service. If you like magic with your horror I would also recommend it. Honestly it’s a really fun and thrilling ride with great art, colouring, characterisation, plotting and lettering. Do check it out.