Road of BonesGraphic Novels, Horror
Horror, history, and Russian folklore collide in this brutal survival tale, where the worst prison in the world is merely the gateway to even darker terrors.
In 1953, the Siberian Gulag of Kolyma is hell on Earth--which is why Roman Morozov leaps at the chance to escape it. But even if they make it out, Roman and his fellow escapees still have hundreds of miles of frozen tundra between them and freedom. With the help of a mysterious being straight out of his childhood fairy tale stories, Roman just might make it--or is the being simply a manifestation of the brutal circumstances driving him insane?
Rich Douek’s Road of Bones is horrifying, and it’s one of those stories that is horrifying more because of the humans in it than anything else. The art is heavy, dark, in a way that’s appropriate but erases the individuality of people: there’s only the brutality of the Gulag and the brutality it breeds in everyone. It doesn’t always make it easy to follow exactly who is talking and to whom, though, and sometimes that’s important.
It ends up being a very gory story, and a harsh message; in the end, it almost feels like a cop-out that there’s a supernatural element here, given the real history and the real ways humans can be absolutely terrible. It just feels a little too obvious. It’s not shying from the brutality, but it risks giving it an excuse. A reason other than “humans are flawed, especially under pressure”.
I can’t say it was enjoyable, given the topic, but it was fascinating.