A Sickness in the Family by Denise Mina

(7.5/10) One of those almost perfect stories for a short contained graphic novel.

Meet the Ushers. The parents, Ted and Biddy. Grandma Martha. The three kids, William, Amy and Sam. Just a normal, middle-class family gathered around the table on Christmas Day. Until they start dying. Violent deaths. One by one. Is there a curse on their house, as recently unearthed history of witchcraft in the area would suggest? Or has one member of the Usher clan declared open season on the rest?

As secrets and resentments boil to the surface, it becomes clear that more than one Usher has motives for killing off the others. But in the end, the truth turns out to be far more shocking than anyone in this ill-fated family could have imagined.

A Sickness in the Family is one of those almost perfect stories for a short contained graphic novel. You get introduced to the family very quickly and plunged into the story with very little time to get your bearings. The Ushers are some of the worst people you will ever meet, all focused on themselves and not actually caring about the rest of their family.

This does mean that not all the characters are fully fleshed out, but at the same time you know enough about them to see how they fit within the story. You get to see in this story of death how the family came to be how it is, showing all the disappointments which can come with family life, as well as showing how sometimes some families are better off by not trying to fix anything.

There are some great twists in this and the supernatural subplot does not detract from the story but only adds to the suspense of the grand reveal. The final pages are great.

The artwork for this graphic novel is sparse rendered in black and white with a lot of shadow which gives it an added depth to add to the creepiness of the story itself.

I would definitely recommend it and look forward to reading other stories by Denise Mina.

Denise Mina is the author of Deception, the Garnethill trilogy, and Still Midnight. She has worked in healthcare and taught criminology and criminal law. She lives in Scotland. Antonio Fuso is an Italian left-handed comic book artist unconditionally acclaimed by his family, his girlfriend and some of his friends... his cat hates him.

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