Reeling from the strange and confusing discoveries of their last adventure, the Hobtown Junior Detective Club is looking forward to Christmas break when two of its Teen Detectives—Brennan and Pauline—are made to attend an extra-credit boarding school called Knotty Pines. After attending their first classes, however, they realize they may have stumbled on their weirdest case yet!
It’s not just that the Headmaster and the Headmistress are unusually strict, it’s that they seem to be controlling the students, transforming them into idiots and bullies. Isolated from their fellow sleuths, our intrepid young investigators have to rely on a lady ghost, a crazy hermit, and a mysterious mini-man to lift a curse that has plagued the good people of Hobtown for centuries!
Bizarre, funny, frightening, and heartwarming, this latest installment of the Hobtown Mystery Stories brings our teens one step closer to uncovering the haunting truth of their funny little east-coast village.
Kris Bertin and Alexander Forbes are childhood friends who trained in separate disciplines in order to reunite as adults and make comic books. Alexander Forbes is an artist and graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and Kris Bertin is the author of the short story collection Bad Things Happen (Biblioasis, 2016). They are both from Lincoln, New Brunswick, and both live in Halifax, Nova Scotia
Kris Bertin is a writer of from Halifax, NS. His first book of short stories, BAD THINGS HAPPEN, won the Writers' Union of Canada's 2017 Danuta Gleed Award and the ReLit Award for short fiction. Kris's graphic novel (illustrated by Alexander Forbes) THE CASE OF THE MISSING MEN, published in 2017 by Conundrum Press, was nominated for a Doug Wright Award.
I love this series. It's just warped enough to give me the David Lynch shivery tinglies and yet its got such a tremendous amount of heart.
This is the second in what I hope is going to be a very long series about the Hobtown Teen Detective Club made of high schoolers Dana Nance (who might as well be Nancy Drew's twin sister down to the absurdly supportive, super wealthy, strangely well connected lawyer father), Pauline (Dana's best friend the reluctant psychic) and Denny and Brennan (brothers who bear more than a passing resemblance to the Hardy boys). Hobtown is a strange little place. It sits somewhere on the coast of Canada and its residents, with the exception of our friends the detective club and their nearest and dearest, are all a trifle odd. Nothing seems to bother the residents of Hobtown. Not the strange creatures that occasionally wander its hills or the crazy number of increasingly creepy, cult like homicides that occur.
So what in the hell is up in this weird little town and why does no one but our intrepid team care!?
I can't say enough about how good these graphic novels are. The illustrations one hundred percent evoke the classic girl/boy detective stories we all grew up reading, there's a wonderful old fashioned, creepy vibe to everything. But even though everything is so weird and creepy awful (there are, no joke, some truly terrifying images here) these characters are all very genuine and really care about each other. The books are as much about the evolution of the characters and their relationships as they are about the Twin Peakesque mysteries that plague Hobtown. I really LIKE these kids.
There's just so much good stuff here. Like they're really good at solving mysteries! No Scooby Doo shenanigins here! Dana, with her Sherlock Holmes pipe and hard stare, is a goddamn general leading her troops to battle as the club's leader and Brenner and Denny, who initially come off as jocks with little interest in actually solving mysteries, are totally dedicated investigators with brains and brawn. Pauline may actually be the most interesting of the crew with psychic visions she wants no part of and a sincere insecurity about how much she actually helps the club, but she's the quintessential clutch team member who almost always sees the one clue that's been overlooked by the others.
The mysteries themselves have the creep factor and weirdness level cranked up to eleven. There's all kinds of crazy ghosts and mind control and secret societies and tunnels under the town. There's chases and zombie killers and curses. Its endlessly exciting stuff.
Honestly this review is turning into me repeating "its awesome" in so many words so I'm gonna quit while I'm ahead but I sincerely adore these books, they need way more attention than they get and you must read them.
I love this series so much!! The first book was offbeat and creepy, hinting at a whole lot of weirdness in the margins of what initially seems like a straightforward teens-solving-mysteries-in-small-town story. This one, though, goes fully off-the-rails into all-out nightmare horror territory, with some pictures that feel ripped directly out of David Cronenberg movies or the Twin Peaks reboot. Creepiness isn't hinted at anymore and is brought directly into the foreground, and it's such a trip. The characters are still all so fun and charming, the mystery is bonkers and wildly unpredictable, and the whole thing just feels so subversive and smart and thrilling! As good or better than the first book and IMO if you are into mystery novels or Nancy Drew or graphic novels or genre fiction in general I could not recommend this more highly! Such a spooky little treat, the only downside is how short it is because I am dying to read more of these stories.
I was supposed to go to the gym but I couldn’t stop reading. There’s still time to go, but now all I want to do is lay down and think about the story. The magic of Hobtown is so dark. It’s the magic of decay. There are no blue orbs of light or unicorns. There’s sticks and dirt and little humanoid creatures with secrets. I don’t like mysteries. I think most of them are dumb. But good mysteries like this will make you think you’re reading a mystery but give you something better. This is a ghost story unlike any you’ve ever heard of. There are elements that’ll remind you of The Shining, Stir of Echoes, Twin Peaks. But that feeling of recognition won’t last. These pages are gonna drag you to a dark place. Prepare yourself: open a couple beers. Maybe go to the gym tomorrow instead.
Encore un 3,5. C'était différent de l'autre, à la fois plus intéressant et moins intéressant. C'était comme une rencontre entre Fear Street et Twin Peaks, ce qui n'était pas sans me déplaire, en plus qu'il y a un fantôme et une médium. Bien cool, en tout cas (mais j'aurais peut-être dû attendre à Noël avant de le lire).
I enjoyed this even more than the first! In part, I think, because its main focus was on fewer characters. Super weird mystery horror that just makes me surrender to not totally know what the fuck’s going on! Also realized it reminds me of Riverdale so that’s in its favor lol. Bring on book #3!
I liked this second volume even better than the first. I'm excited to see that there are three more Hobtown Mystery Stories planned, and I hope that those end up being a reality. The Cursed Hermit gets dinged a little for its lack of any truly deep character development, but when it comes to originality, atmosphere, and just plain weirdness, it can't be beat. I liked that this story focused almost entirely on Pauline, who was definitely my favorite character from The Case of the Missing Men. I love surreal comics, and this one has a foot in reality too and in juvenile mystery series and cartoons of the past. It's set in 1996, but might as well be 1966. Very cool.
In a lot of ways, this is a distillation of all the qualities in the first, both good and bad: the art remains entrancing; the overall vibe is just so rad; the writing is more uneven than in the first, and the plot is more than a bit incoherent. Character development is wildly uneven, though I find myself inclined to forgive this because Pauline's grandma is such a singularly great character. I think this one suffers from not having the whole gang together, but still an intriguing read.
Oh man. So amazing! It amps up the unsettling visionary weirdness to a bonkers fever pitch but stays grounded in social commentary and the teenage experience. We get to spend more time with Pauline and Brennan, which is great, and we get a few more glimpses of the underlying mystery, just enough to whet my appetite for more. Can't wait for volume three!
An exceptional, perhaps superior sequel to the already very strong The Case of the Missing Men, this book takes a deeper dive not only into the authors' convoluted "Hobtown Mythos" but also into the psychology of the first book's most intriguing figure, the under-achieving, sometimes-psychic Pauline Larmier, treasurer of the "Hobtown Junior Detective Club." In this shorter, more focused second installment, Bertin and Forbes delve into the potential for trauma and violence to linger across lifetimes and generations. Pauline and her fellow Junior Detective Brennan find themselves enrolled over winter break at the Knotty Pines, an exclusive and secretive school. As might be expected, all is not as it seems, and the characters soon find themselves involved in a mystery that all somehow connects with the eponymous "Meat Basin Hermit."
But while the set-up might seem familiar to anyone who has read Carolyn Keene's "Nancy Drew" books, "The Cursed Hermit" soon reveals itself to be something far more disturbing and serious. Bertin and Forbes are definitely "playing for keeps" here... Characters are wounded, suffer, and die. Past actions, from a character's life-altering injury in the previous book to the malevolent and often invisible forces of colonialism, racism, and sexism all rear their ugly heads here, and what starts off as a loving pastiche of light-hearted adventure fare is quickly transformed into a rather moving and disturbing look at pain and sorrow.
By the time the book wraps up you might be hoping to spare the poor characters any further "adventures," but Bertin and Forbes also manage to expand and deepen their always intriguing and unique universe, and the reader is bound to want to find out more. Looking forward to the next installment!
To be honest, I was a bit disappointed by this sequel. Especially because I liked the first one so much, this book felt different and was a bit of a let-down. I still liked the art and I'd be willing to read more of this series, but I'm not as excited for it as I was previously. I would not recommend reading this if you haven't read The Case of the Missing Men.
I don't quite know what to make of these aggressively odd Hobtown Mystery Stories, but I'm definitely on board for the madness and mayhem. In The Cursed Hermit, the Junior Detective Club takes a backseat to Brennan and Pauline's misadventures in a creepy boarding school. The headmaster and mistress appear to be ageless and are definitely grooming the students for marriage. Something is certainly amiss!
Pauline is the primary character, a bonus since she's easily the more interesting of the duo. She's the vintage "bad teen," smoking and drinking and hiding a cat. She has some psychedelic visions that I could have done without, though I suppose they did play into the very weird conclusion. Very satisfying also! The book came full circle quite unexpectedly.
The art continues to be excellent, black and white with intricate details. I look forward to future entries in this series - it appears that something very funny is going on in Hobtown and has been going on for a long time. Plenty more mysteries for the Junior Detective Club to solve!
`This series is just freaking great. This chapter starts weird and gets ends even weirder. The more time spent with in Hobtown the better. Good night nurse is it ever interesting. I have been in small towns where every one knows everyone. It's not sinister so much as unwelcoming. Townfolk dont cotton to strangers because strangers tend to ask questions and questions can be threatening. For example why are we watching some homeless man walk across an icy field? The answer because it happens every year isnt going to satisfy curiosity although that's the reason. We see our mystery team split up and pushed in different directions. Half the team has to go to a private school over winter break. They get there and it sucks. (None of that crappy I love school propaganda in this story. YES!) They split the guys and dolls and wouldnt you know it there's not much fun in being a doll. Then Bertin says hello paranormal creepy. (talk about planting roots)
Hobtown Mystery Stories have yet to disappoint. In this installment of the graphic novel series, we journey with our Junior Detective Agency through another wild and tumultuous adventure in hopes of getting closer to Hobtown’s dark truth. The series is a continuous homage to those retro mysteries we love so much, sprinkled with a bit more of a macabre spice, if you will. The plot is intricate, yet strikingly brilliant, the stories are beautifully and uniquely spun, and the art work? Stunning. For a retro mystery/crime/supernatural story geek like me, this hits all the marks. If you have a taste for the unusual, these may be the ticket for you. I can’t wait for another installment to be released!
What in the actual feck did I read? Heh. Oh Lordy. I was enticed by the ridiculous cover and dove into this second volume of what is apparently a series, on a whim. Maybe I should have read the first installment to get more background on the general plot and characters, but the story was so bizarre it pretty much stood on its own. There is a very Scoob Crew meets Japanese horror comic vibe going on in this series and I am still not quite sure what to make of it. I loved how outlandish and mysterious everything was, but was put off by the vulgar and grotesque aspects (which is never really my cup of tea) and the use of certain disparaging terms. I’m not completely invested, but if I were to stumble upon other volumes, I’d most likely end up reading them.
It’s too bad that my library system doesn’t have the first one in this series (yet) as there are a lot of references to the first story in this and it was a little odd-putting to have references to other stories within this one, This is a very creepy story and the all black and white made it creepier though in general I prefer coloured images. I actually chose this book because the cover image reminded me so much of an old Nancy Drew novel, but this story is way more disturbing than anything Nancy came across back in the day. I’m not sure I really enjoyed it as much as respected the work. The middle was a little iffy but the end (mostly) made up for it.
A bizarre and compelling continuation of the first book. Some of the art is really freaky and almost a little gross but in a sort of gothic way. It was nice to hone in more closely on just two of the five or so main characters from the first book, and I appreciated the epistolary narrative of letters from one character to another to break up the action and build suspense. I'll definitely keep an eye out for a third installment.
I'd recommend it for people who do not expect to 100% understand everything and who have a fondness for weird shit.
Five word summary: Rural teen detective ghost story.
This is 2.5 stars for me. I just don't quite understand the high ratings. There is a lot of good stuff here. Who wouldn't want to read a graphic mystery series described as a cross between Scooby Doo and David Lynch (with covers right out of Nancy Drew). Well those descriptors set my expectations too high. I do love the art work and premise in both books, and I do not mind outrageous plots. I do mind incoherent plots and no character development. I do think this installment in the series is better than the first.
Imagine an updated, classier version of the Scooby Doo gang minus the dog. Now cross that with the sensibility of David Lynch. This story continues the investigations of the Detective Club which we were introduced to in the first book, The Case of the Missing Men. But in this case, the story focuses largely on just two members of the club, when they're sent to a special school over their winter break. And the school is seriously weird, creepy, and alarming. It's another fun story set in the fictional town of Hobtown, Nova Scotia.
This series is such a joy to read. I'm constantly amazed at the imagination that has gone into these books.
I found this one a little more straightforward (while not being at all straightforward) than #1, which sometimes lost me.
In this one, our plucky troupe is mostly separated, with Pauline and Brennan spending the winter holidays at a creepy lodge. They're quickly pulled into another fantastic and fantastical mystery, featuring ghosts, kittens, manly men, urinal grating and murder!
Slight spoiler - 4.5 - Loved the illustrations, the total weirdness of the story, the personality of the characters, the cult-ish style mystery, the occult elements. My kind of thing. Had a great atmosphere overall, really engaging style. Just kept wanting to read more! Had some unanswered questions at the end, but that may have been on purpose.. and also I haven't read the first Hobtown mystery yet so maybe I'll have more context when I do. Thank god Meatball II was ok...
The story starts out promising enough with a strong premise and plucky, distinct characters with an inspired Gorey-esque art style to match. The story falls apart about halfway through though and then just stops making sense. I got a sense that the David Lynchian/ Scooby Doo setup was too much for the authors to wrangle and so the confusing story is resolved quickly and in an unsatisfying way.
I usually don't rate books anymore. BUT this series is INCREDIBLE. It fuses teen detective stories with surreal, supernatural fiction. It's really hard to do metaphysical detective fiction, but these guys nail it. Very strange and wonderful. The Hardy Boys meet David Lynch. I hope there's many more mysteries to come.
Number two in this series is even more creepy and weird than the first! It truly is like David Lynch, meets Nancy drew. Bizarre, unsettling and definitely will give you weird dreams if you read before bed. Could not put this down!
Hobtown is a bizarre mix of Nancy Drew, fever dream, 90s, and Nova Scotia (also gives me Sappy Fest vibes?). The story telling is wonderful and fulsome, and makes a real page turner. I’d honestly give it more stars if I could.
I still think the art is... gross, but the story was wonderfully weird and compelling. I enjoyed this one quite a bit more than the first, mostly because it jumper straight into the action rather than spending the first 2/3rds meandering about. I look forward to a third book.