Review: Some Strange Disturbances
When the words “Victorian England” are usually uttered, visions of Sherlock Holmes and Jane Austen period pieces often cloud the mind. Rarely, in any iteration of these stories, are the existence of other cultures acknowledged, the different portrayal of gender types presented, or even something as commonplace now as sexual orientation mentioned. It’s true that there were shades of progressive thinking in Doyle’s portrayal of Irene Adler and Isadora Klein. Those two are close to contemporary archetypes as Doyle and his famous character can come to modern thinking. In Austen’s stories, she often made strides in portrayals of the complexities of being a woman but didn’t portray queer women or women of color in her stories.
It makes you wonder if England was strictly made up of cisgender Caucasians but history portrays a different story, one that shows a brutal reality for most who is a bearer of either category. Movies and books in recent years have sought to tell a truer picture than what has been historically been shown. As was shown in Amma Asante’s Belle, the true story of mulatto women whose fame spawned from the popularity of a famous painting. The film showcased a complicated story of race, gender roles, and freedom of thought. In Craig Hurd-McKinney, Gervasio, and Carlos Aon’s brilliant Some Strange Disturbances, we get a fine blend of horror, historical fiction, and progressive storytelling which seeks to remix how we look at the era.
We’re taken to 1870 Baltimore, where a young man’s mother has just been deemed insane, because she can see ghosts. 5 years later, we are taken to England, where that young man, Mr. Mayfair, a professional spiritualist, who is grown up and is partaking in a seance, one which threatens the well being of a patron, and which turns out all to be a hoax to lure connoisseurs of this “parlor trick” out of their money. Everything changes when one of the patrons asks for his professional help in finding out whether their son is possessed by the devil, which leads to a different client dying from a freak rodent related incident. As he visits Lord Duncan, it reminds him of his mother, before she died, and the demons that haunted her until she died. This is where Ms. Quinton, who is part of a choir but doesn’t feel like she belongs, as her family’s upbringing in Africa and connection to her roots, gives her a knowledge of self and identity, but because of gender roles shackles her to the time’s reality. As we find out that what possesses Lord Duncan is the Madwoman Of Chaillot. Mayfair has another threat is the form of Ms. Maylie, who just happens to be the Rat King, and who has been killing anyone who has come close to spoiling her plot.
Overall, an engaging and enthralling story that expertly mixes historical fiction and horror into something devastatingly beautiful. The story by Hurd-McKinney is harrowing, smart, and diverse. The art by the creative team is awe-inspiring. Altogether, a story that probably more accurate to life than any Doyle, Austen or Dickens book can ever depict.
Story: Craig Hurd-McKenney Art: Gervasio and Carlos Aon
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy