REVIEW: ‘The House of Lost Horizons: A Sarah Jewell Mystery,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

House of Lost Horizons #1

The House of Lost Horizons: A Sarah Jewell Mystery #1 is published by Dark Horse Comics, written by Chris Roberson, with art by Leila Del Duca, colors by Michelle Madsen, and letters by Clem Robins. In the midst of stormy weather, Sarah Jewell and her companion Marie-Therese LaFleur arrive at the island estate of Sarah’s childhood friend Lilian Whelstone. However, upon arriving, she is greeted with the news that Lilian’s lawyer, Mr. Severin, has been murdered. With only a handful of possible suspects on the island, it’s up to Sarah Jewell to solve this mystery.

With the above setup and the story’s 1926 dating, you couldn’t ask for a more classic beginning for a murder mystery. With only eight people on the island present for an auction of occult items Lilian’s late husband had amassed over his lifetime, the limited number of suspects makes for a perfect start for the story.

As The House of Lost Horizons: A Sarah Jewell Mystery #1 dives into its mystery, writer Robertson does a great job of not tipping the story’s hand early with likely suspects. Each of the wealthy guests feels like they may have something to hide as the investigation begins. And given the unusual circumstances surrounding the murder, there must be something special about whoever did the foul deed.

The only particular element of this story that may turn off some mystery fans is the lack of personality in this book. Sarah Jewell is a fairly non-descript protagonist whose only significant trait is how calmly she approaches the situation. Beyond her calm confidence, there is little else to notice about the lead character. Sadly, the same lack of depth is equally true for the rest of The House of Lost Horizons: A Sarah Jewell Mystery #1’s cast.

The only thing that may set this story apart from the by-the-numbers mystery it appears to be is the possible presence of the occult. There are a couple of subtle hints that may be indications that a more supernatural explanation to events may be in the cards. Though again, writer Robertson does an excellent job of not tipping his hand.

The art in The House of Lost Horizons: A Sarah Jewell Mystery #1 does a good job of capturing its time and place. With everything from hairstyles to outfits and decor, nothing feels out of place or out of date for the roaring twenties. The art also does a solid job of capturing the emotions in the story. While this is always important, proper emotional representation is especially true in mysteries. After all, as many murderers have been done in by how they say things as what they said.

The colorwork here provides a more muted presentation than one often finds in the comic book medium. This approach, however, works for the more somber tones of this story and its rain-drenched island setting.

Lastly, we have the letter work. The font choice goes well with the classic setting, and the dialogue placement always stays clear of the art as it smoothly guides the reader through the story.

When all is said and done, The House of Lost Horizons: A Sarah Jewell Mystery #1 delivers a perfectly competent beginning to a classic-looking murder mystery story.

The House of Lost Horizons: A Sarah Jewell Mystery #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.

The House of Lost Horizons: A Sarah Jewell Mystery #1
3.5

TL;DR

The House of Lost Horizons: A Sarah Jewell Mystery #1 delivers a perfectly competent beginning to a classic-looking murder mystery story.