Confusion sets in when a schooner arrives in port with no one but the decaying remains of the captain entangled in the ships steering wheel. There should be nine shipmates aboard, but alas, every single man is missing, sans the deceased captain. Naturally this has the locals – fishermen and tradesmen in particular – frightened and uncertain of what became of the ill-fated Demeter.
The story of the problems at sea are retold through a diary written by the captain, and in it a number of violent and atypical occurrences are documented. One of the greatest mysteries of the boat and its mission is the fact that the cargo in tow is nothing other than 40 boxes of dirt. But who would pay – handsomely at that – for 40 boxes of dirt, and what is the secret behind this dirt?
These are the questions posed by scribe Rodolfo Santullo, and not only do readers get a strong sense of what has happened on this ship, but the story’s characters are also of the belief that something ominous travels with them.
Plot details – severed.
I won’t flat out ruin the story for you, because it’s a well-told piece with some extremely unique artwork from Jok, who delivers an aesthetic that draws no immediate comparison but generates a dreaded atmosphere all too familiar with those fascinated by the macabre. The frames tend to be a bit action and detail heavy, but look at these images long enough and the story begins to paint itself clearly, nearly to the point in which no narrative is required.
But we’ve got reason to be thankful for said narrative. Santullo is a straight-forward storyteller, but he’s got a magnetic style that ensures readers will plow through the book in record time. All in all, it really does make for a stellar read, and as the conflict reaches a head, we become entangled in this lovely period piece that echoes elements of more than a single classic tale.
If terror at sea is for you, than Forty Coffins is a must own. And if narratives recited from the diary of a dead man happen to pique your attention – as they most certainly do mine – than you’ve got to drop what you’re doing right this instance, and add Forty Coffins to your collection.