Grave Surprise

Story By: Charlaine Harris and Royal McGraw

Art By: Ilias Kyriazis

Distributed By: Dynamite

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

                In searching for some Halloween season worthy stuff to review for, I stumbled upon a graphic novel adaptation of a book by Charlaine Harris Grave Surprise is based on the second book in Harris’ Harper Connelly supernatural mystery series. I hadn’t read much of Charlaine Harris’ work, but had heard good things.  I decided to check the graphic novel out.

                Harper Connelly finds people, but she’s not your average detective.  Ever since being hit by a lightning bolt as a teenager, Harper has been able to sense locations of the dead and share their last moments.  She has decided to make a business out of it and, along with her lifetime friend and manager Tolliver Lang, Harper travels all over the US helping people discover what has happened to their loved ones. 

                One case, in particular, has nagged at Harper – the case of a missing girl named Tabitha Morgenstern.  The Morgenstern family had hired her to find their daughter in Nashville, but the trail went cold.  Amazingly, while plying her trade at a gravesite in Memphis, she discovers that Tabitha is actually buried in a centuries-old grave.  Suddenly, she and Tolliver become persons of interest with police wondering if they might be a part of the abduction/murder and may have moved the body to this location in an effort to get their hands on the reward set up in Tabitha’s name.

                But for Harper, it’s less about clearing her name and more about discovering what happened to Tabitha, especially after the vision she received when finding the body.  The girl was murdered, no doubt, but the impression Harper gets is that the murderer was someone Tabitha knew. But with all the distractions surrounding them, can Harper and Tolliver figure out who the murderer is before they become the next victim?

                I was surprised to find myself engrossed in this tale.  I’m not much into the supernatural, but Grave Surprise had my attention.  For once, it was not about a psychic using her powers to speak to the dead.  This was a unique take on things – a young woman who can find missing dead people as long as she is in their proximity and actually learn how it was they died.  It was interesting, as was the tension between Harper and Tolliver. 

                The story of Grave Surprise had a lot of twists and turns – everyone in Tabitha’s family has secrets and the reader is never quite sure who could have killed Tabitha until the very end.  The artwork of Grave Surprise is very well done – it’s not cartoony as some graphic novel renditions of books can be.  This rendition is more sophisticated – landscapes and buildings, even people are drawn to appear as real as one can get in a comic book setting.

                I actually would like to see more of this series receive the graphic novel treatment.  After reading Grave Surprise, I definitely would check out more Harper Connelly mysteries in the future.


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