In The Pines by Erik Kriek

Five ominous murder ballads are explored by graphic novelist Erik Kriek, in this new English translation

Book Review by Heather McDaid | 31 Jan 2018
  • In The Pines
Book title: In The Pines
Author: Erik Kriek

Murder ballads, though not originating there, have held a prominent place in American roots music. The songs they inspired traversed unrequited love, betrayal, violence, life and – of course – what would a murder ballad be without death? It’s from these musical musings In The Pines creeps.

Erik Kriek has translated his eerie and wondrous graphic novel into English, placing his interpretation of five ballads of his choosing in an unsettling package. In his retelling of the classic Pretty Polly and the Ship’s Carpenter, storms are brewing, but what is causing it? The first story sets the tone and pace of the collection – stripped palettes using black, white and one muted colour to vividly depict the bleak tales of deadly romance. The Long Black Veil begins with a noose around the neck – but was it the right person? The closer of the five even sees Nick Cave's Where The Wild Roses Grow gets its own Kriek-twist.

Bloody and twisted, In The Pines takes you repeatedly into these ordinary worlds and lures you to their deepest shadows. In doing so you’re masterfully shown the darkest sides of human nature in cinematic style. This isn’t a read to feel warm and fuzzy over; it will unsettle, but step away from the daylight, wrap up warm, and dive in. [Heather McDaid]

Canongate, 1 Feb, £18.99