A village of drowned witches beneath the ocean's waves, a secret and deadly cabal of priests, a ritual of murder by baptism, a furious attendance of crows, and a treasure locked in a sacred reliquary. Welcome to The Drowned, an 80-page original graphic novella by husband and wife team Jim Di Bartolo (art) and Laini Taylor (writing).
Set in France in 1800, The Drowned follows the path of Theophile Finistere, who has been locked in an insane asylum for five years when he is compelled by unseen forces to escape. He makes his way home to the haunted Breton coast of western France, where he follows the tatters of his memory back to the ungodly event he witnessed as a child, an event that destroyed his family and cast an unholy pall on his entire town. A pawn in the grip of a loved one he has long believed dead, Theophile becomes entangled in not one story of supernatural vengeance, but two. This dark story of madness, horror, and witchcraft unfolds, secret upon secret, twist upon twist, to its surprising conclusion.
The Drowned, a fully painted graphic novel, is the first collaboration between the husband and wife team. The seed of the idea for the story was a dream Laini had as a girl, about a village at the very edge of the sea that was swallowed at high tide. Together, Laini and Jim worked out the rest of the details until they'd covered just about every frightening and taboo subject that came to mind. While Di Bartolo and Taylor are both newcomers to the field of comics, their work has garnered some lofty praise from those who have seen their work, including Eisner Award winner George Pratt and Top Shelf Productions' Publisher Brett Warnock.
"I have known Jim and Laini for several years now and have been impressed by their considerable skills and the growth in their beautiful and resonant work," said Pratt. "When I met Jim, he was diving headfirst into the labyrinth of sequential storytelling and was determined to not rehash old comic book cliches. Additionally, I found Laini's work to be wonderful and her writing effectively pulled me into her world, conjuring strong images and emotions.
"The Drowned (both art and script) has been gestating with them for some time, and it has only become richer and more layered. I'm anxious to climb aboard and enjoy the roller coaster ride this book promises to be. I'm thankful they're willing to share their unique talents with the rest of us."