Pullbox Reviews: Doll Island – Exactly what you want in a horror story and so much more!

Doll Island (Source Point Press)

Writing – Mira Mortal

Art – D.N.S

Set in the 1980s, Doll Island is an unabashed homage to teen slasher films of the same era. Located off the coastal beaches of an idyllic small town, a fabled island draws the curiosity of a tight-knit group of friends. Considered nothing more than a local ghost story, hardly anyone in the town gives more than a passing, shuddering thought to the strange dolls nailed to the thick, ancient trunks of the darkly wooded little isle. The depth of its tragic history has allowed a nameless, deadly sadness to take root and grow among the forest, unchecked. Armed with nothing but a picnic lunch and a youthful enthusiasm for a macabre locale, four friends unwittingly put themselves in the path of the island’s long-isolated, long-forgotten groundskeeper.

Okay, not-so-secret, secret confessions time… being someone who grew up in the 80’s, there are few things I like more than a great anxiety-driven slasher-esque horror story.  The creepy settings, the deep rooted fear, the supernatural terror, the inevitable chase scenes, the poor choices… they are all awesome sauce to me! If you happened to have skipped right to the review part, go back up and read the blurb from Point Source… summary: teenagers rowing out to have a picnic on a secluded and supposedly haunted location named Doll Island.  Not only does the premise want me to scream “bad call!” to this band of teens but it also immediately sucked me in! It seamlessly captures the “feels” of watching a great 80’s horror.. I know what’s going to happen and yet I simply cannot look away.

I’ve been a fan of Mira Mortal’s writing for quite a while now (Zombie Clown Circus, Split, I.D.) and all I can say is that you should be one also! There are very few authors that have mastered the “sit down in one setting and read the whole damn thing” short story comic book script like Mira Mortal.  One of the many skills Mira has as an author is introducing characters, and through actions and relationships, having the reader very quickly invest in them. In under sixty pages, I genuinely felt for this quartet of carefree teens. I went from sitting back and ready to watch the terrorized wheels come off their ill-thought out picnic excursion to authentically rooting for them.  Mira’s pacing and narrative nails the “slow-burn” tempo and gives the reader texture to the horror that the characters are experiencing. In short, the writing is brilliant.

D.N.S.’s dark yet incredibly coherent visuals are the perfect accompaniment for Mortal’s tale.  The overall setting and color palette is balanced to have a very gothic and sunless feel to it without being gloomy. While giving the readers the sense of doom and danger, D.N.S.’s pages are visually stimulating. Beautiful details lie in both the foreground and background of every frame. The masterful splash pages convey both horror-driven action and stress-induced emotions.  It is a gorgeous book!

This is a one shot tale and begs for follow-up and I can’t wait to have this on my shelf!

Score: 12/13

The Bottom Line: A Fantastic read that you will revisit over and over… and a steal at $6.99 – buy it here!

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