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Salem Brownstone: All Along the Watchtowers

3.5  ·  Rating Details ·  405 Ratings  ·  116 Reviews
A mundane life takes a strange and magical turn in this rich gothic fantasy told with vivid black-and-white art -- a graphic novel perfect for a Halloween night.

As he twists the key and slowly creeps into the grand mansion left to him in his father's will, Salem Brownstone has an eerie feeling that his world is about to change. First there's the appearance of a beguiling
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published 2009 by Walker & Company
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Nov 05, 2012 Forrest rated it liked it
If it was possible to divorce the art of this graphic novel from its underlying story, I would be writing a five star review. Nikhil Singh's artwork is stunning - the sort of thing that would be seen by Aubrey Beardsley and Franz Kafka if the two were to share an acid blotter. It truly is gorgeous and intricate work in the grim vein of Edward Gorey, but with greater detail and an expressionistic streak that contorts (I use the word deliberately) the art noveau baseline.

The story, however, is hac
Jul 20, 2016 Morgannah rated it really liked it
3.75 Stars
My first Victorian Noir graphic novel. As in most noir stories our protagonist, Salem Brownstone is not a detective, but instead he is a victim of unusual circumstance. These circumstances produce a world of trouble for Salem and those connected to him.
I picked this book up because it caught my eye on the shelf. It was creepy and pretty so I couldn't resist it. It has a lavish purple and black fabric cover so not only was it pretty to look at it felt good to hold, I petted it even.
Jun 01, 2013 Sam rated it it was amazing
I'll admit I bought this book solely for its cover, which is stunning, but having read it I am thoroughly pleased that I did so. While there are bits of the story that I didn't get or didn't seem to fit, the way the characters interacted, the gripping nature of the tale and the utterly stunning illustrations made this irrelevant. It's tone reminds me greatly of the Lemony Snicket books with all those little oddities in character, place and story that I just find completely enchanting and irresis ...more
Sue Smith
Mar 05, 2017 Sue Smith rated it really liked it
This was one of the quirkiest graphic novels ever ..... but it somehow worked for me. The black and white format was perfect for it and the illustrations were as well. As a matter of fact, the illustrations are what made it for me. The story was a wee bit weak, so they really should give equal footing to the illustrator here.

What I loved about the illustrating was how it felt like they 'pulsed' - they were twisted somehow or distorted and it was great! It really sets it off and gives it the noir
Jean-Paul Bass
Apr 14, 2012 Jean-Paul Bass rated it liked it
Surprised doesn’t really describe how I felt when Salem Brownstone arrived in the mail. Shocked and awed may be more apt. The book is HUGE, and I don’t mean page length. It’s a really big book. At 12×9 inches, it pretty much dwarfs everything else on my shelves.

The cover is actually fabric with labels affixed to the front and back listing the title and so forth. And the artwork inside is equally as impressive as the cover. It reminds me of Edward Gorey, and since the story is a gothic fantasy, i
Steph Bowe
Nov 15, 2009 Steph Bowe rated it liked it
Salem Brownstone is a brilliantly bizarre graphic novel - filled with strange, crazy characters and creatures, alternate universes (I think), and lots of dark curiosities. The illustrations are magnificent - scary and funny and offtap - and though it's not the sort of thing which you'd read for the story (which I lost track of at times, and tends to be secondary to the crazy world-building and illustrations) it is certainly a lovely book to spend an hour or two with (though I kept revisiting my ...more
Mar 02, 2012 Shannon rated it really liked it
Shannon Miranda
Graphic Novel Genre

This is the story of a young man named Salem Brownstone who receives a telegram from a mysterious woman named Lola Q. telling Salem that his father Jedediah has passed away and he must come to the father’s mansion that evening at 9:00 p.m. Salem has last seen his father when he was six and has been estranged ever since. Salem has inherited the home and all its contents. When he arrives at his father’s home he meets a girl named Cassandra who is a contortionist (
Dec 13, 2010 Kate rated it liked it
Salem Brownstone, having just discovered that his father has passed away, arrives at his father's mansion as its new owner, only to find that many mysteries await him, including a contortionist in one of the rooms, Shadow Boys, a circus in the backyard, and a strange sphere that has magic to keep evil away.

The artwork was awesome, although so intricate at times it was hard to discern what actions were taking place. It's all very trippy and weird and reveling in its weirdness (that does not seem
Aug 07, 2011 Mel rated it really liked it
This was a very pretty gothic comic. A gorgeous black and purple hardcover with monsters and odd women. The story itself wasn't too original a young man with an estranged father found he'd inherited a haunted house, a circus was camped outside and there were evil creatures from another dimension trying to get across. But I really liked Singh's art. It was a little like Gorey but so detailed and twisted. Reading the comic was halfway between a Gorey book and a Michael Ende novel. It was a lovely ...more
Mar 11, 2010 Miriam rated it liked it
Recommended to Miriam by: Robin McKinley
The blurb lists this book's influences as "intriguing echoes of Tim Burton, Edward Gorey, H. P. Lovecraft, and Aubrey Beardsley," to which I'd add Neil Gaiman and Darren Shan. Unfortunately it doesn't come close to being as good as any of them at their best, or even mediocre-est. It was some what interesting, but undeveloped, and felt more like an art student still working out his own style. And the writing was extremely cliched and forgettable.
Edmund Davis-Quinn
Dec 27, 2012 Edmund Davis-Quinn rated it really liked it
Very cool little story. Artwork was exceptional. I feel like this book just starts on a trip to a bizarre, dark and wonderful world.

Reminds me a lot of the HBO series "Carnivale". Look forward to more work from these authors.
Jul 24, 2012 Janie rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic
Very cool. The art is fantastic, though the story and the character development is lacking.
Aug 31, 2010 Dennis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this is a strong 4 and a half stars. reluctant to rave too much immediately after reading, but it's very good. highly recommended whether you like graphic fiction or not.
Picture the scene: a looming Gothic mansion, inherited by Salem on the death of his mysterious father; an interior mosaic of the curious and absurd, complete with taxidermy specimens, armour and a tribal mask; an alluring contortionist from the nearby circus poring over a book of rune marks; and a thicket of grasping shadows with an agenda of their own. Hunted by the shadow creatures, Salem soon finds himself amid the protection of the circus folk, custodian of a glittering "scrying ball" – alth ...more
Nicola Mansfield
Jul 31, 2010 Nicola Mansfield rated it really liked it
Reason for Reading: I was immediately taken with the publisher's eerie plot summary.

This is a beautiful book. Oversized like a large picture book with decorated cloth covered boards, it feels like a treasure in your hands. Upon opening the book, the story grips you right away as if something by Poe. Then turn the page where the artwork starts and immediately Gory comes to mind and the further one gets into the story with the mixture of art and text their is a very strong Tim Burton vibe going an
Lateef Amodu
The story contains themes of the occult, spiritualism and divination. Overall, I thought the story was weird and mysterious, which made for an intriguing to read. Going through the panels, I found myself looking back at the previous ones, making sure I got a grasp on what was going on in the scene. Though I found the artwork quite unique and stylish, I think it does require close examination to discern what is happening. Personally, this wasn’t a bad thing, in a way it gives the graphic novel so ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 31, 2013 Jessica rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Traci Haley
Sep 05, 2010 Traci Haley rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels, 2010
The first thing you notice about Salem Brownstone is how exquisitely beautiful it is. The art, done in pen and ink, is astounding in its detail. Each picture is littered with fine lines and swirls and patterns kind of made my fingers itch to get my colored pencils and use this comic like a coloring book (alas, this one belongs to my library, so I can't). From the way Cass the Contortionist's cigarette smoke curls around the pages, as limber as her limbs, to the horrifying eyes of t ...more
Jul 28, 2010 Matthew rated it liked it
This is a book that's impossible to talk about without talking about the artwork. Singh's style mixes Edward Gorey/Charles Adams with heavy doses of Gustav Klimt, making it creepy, eerie but beautifully strange to just look at. Whether is was Singh or Dunning, they also make some interesting choices in what images to focus on; they seem particurlarly fascinated with mouths and other extreme closeups, making the rhythm and pacing very different from most comics.

The story I'm unclear on; I felt l
Mar 12, 2014 Kimi rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics, adult
I'm not going to lie: my rating of this book is totally biased because I love the art style and the atmosphere so much. I love the macabre and anything dark and creepy is sure to make me happy. The Iove the detail in the art, how it looks so colorful, even if it's just in black and white. It was weird and grotesque and I loved it.

The plot left a little to be desired. I could follow it okay, but I didn't really have a clue why any of it was happening. Most of my questions were left unanswered and
Mar 24, 2012 Gally rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Salem Brownstone: All Along the Watchtowers Review by Gally Lines (4.5/5 stars)

Wow, what a lucky find! A fantastic blend of heavily detailed yet beautifully flowing art, mysterious characters and cool circus freaks (Cassandra Contortionist ftw), and a dark story reminiscent of Tim Burton. I can usually make out each panel's details in a comic at a glance, but this made me actively seek all the delicious little details scratching and swirling in every minute space,
Nicola Fantom
Mar 02, 2014 Nicola Fantom rated it liked it
This is a strange mix of horror, carni folk, evil, magic, inheritance, past and present, the underworld, fantasy etc.

I found the storyline and plot for a childrens audience, yet the drawings a d artwork quite grotesque and unsavoury.

If you like Gothic macabre horror I think you will enjoy this, its a quick read, quite enjoyable.

I just wish there was more to the plot and storyline, drawings could av been smaller to account for this. as too much detail in drawings not enough dialogue or plot.

You d
Jul 24, 2013 Sierra rated it really liked it
I gave this book four stars based mainly on the artwork. It was fantastic! The storyline while being interesting was sub par to the art; in the end it is anticlimactic. The story follows a man named Salem who just inherited his father's estate and responsibilities to protect an orb. If the orb falls in the wrong hands the world would be doomed, being destroyed by mysterious spiritual beings. This is of course not all to the book. The concept is great, the characters are fascinating and diverse, ...more
Mar 07, 2014 Jaimie rated it it was amazing
It's really too bad that this graphic novel is the only iteration of the Salem Brownstone series. The author clearly has a group of oddly intriguing characters (he can't go wrong with a crew of magic-using circus performers, and Salem Brownstone's haphazard personality is nothing less than charming), and hte artist has some mad talent. The dilemma of Salem's inherited responsibilities as a guardian of one of the Watchtowers is definitely exciting, but what really drew me in was the artwork. Sing ...more
Apr 21, 2012 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
What a very ODD book.

Covered in purple and black linen, with labels affixed to it, it seems to have come from another world... an ODD world.

It reminded me in many ways of the current trends in 'Goth' art- reminicient of Tim Burton and Edward Gorey, and a dozen other popular artists... stories like the Lemony Snickett ones, and just... yes. ODD.

Oh so very ODD.

...and I liked it.

I can't really describe the story here, save to note that it involves a fellow who inherits a house (and a mission in lif
George Marshall
Jul 18, 2010 George Marshall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What makes this a phenomenal comic book is the extraordinary artwork by Nikhil Singh - wild, weird, swirling, and elaborately ornamental in one panel, stark bold areas of black and white in another, constantly moving into extreme close up. For the art alone (and the very pleasant binding makes it a pleasure to hold) it should be on the shelves of any enthusiast. The obvious influence is Beardsley, but I saw a lot of similarities with Hispanic comic artists like Alex Nino.
The storyline is creativ
Apr 24, 2013 Andria rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
"There are those who love the rum and unusual, the uncanny, the macabre."

ME! ME! I LOVE ALL OF THOSE THINGS. So it's no surprise I love this graphic novel, which opens with those words and lives up to them. The artwork is gorgeous, lush, fantastical, intricate and weird. The story is...well, mostly just fantastical and weird: a contortionist, a monkeygirl, the son of a dead magician (and his etheric double) use scrying orbs to defeat evil shadow creatures trying to destroy the world. Yeah. Don't
Nov 19, 2010 Charles rated it really liked it
When Salem Brownstone's absent father dies, he travels to his father's home, discovers that his father was a magician, and is immediately threatened by sinister forces. The contortionist from the travelling circus next door helps him escape, and his destiny is subsequently revealed. The story is told with minimum exposition, and it unfolds like a dream - or possibly a nightmare - in the sense that Salem questions none of the strangeness around him. The stylized, but highly detailed artwork furth ...more
Apr 14, 2011 Sue rated it liked it
Shelves: ya
Salem Brownstone runs the Sit & Spin Laundromat and is content. Then he gets a telegram that his father, who he hasn't seen in years, has died and that he has inherited his father's house. Life gets very exciting for Salem from then on in this peculiar graphic novel. Salem must save the world without fully understanding his role or his father's role in any part of the threat to it.

The black and white drawings illustrate the oddities that extend from the house to a surreal circus, complete wi
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As an artist

Born in South Africa in 1974, John Dunning has lived in London for the last decade. He has written for The Guardian and Metro newspapers, and has contributed to magazines like Esquire, Arena, iD and Dazed & Confused, to name a few. He also acted as film editor at Sleazenation magazine. Writing comics is Dunning’s main passion. His work appeared at London’s Institute of Contemporary
More about John Harris Dunning...

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