The Keep, written by F. Paul Wilson, was a popular horror novel published back in 1981. The graphic novel adaptation was drawn by Matthew Dow Smith and the script was written by F. Paul Wilson himself. It caught my eye while browsing the new books section at my library.
I didn’t like this graphic novel. I didn’t appreciate the artistic style and I thought the script was bland. Both seem flat, emotionless, and predictable. There is no sense of suspense or tension, which is unfortunate because the premise of the story is tantalizing. It reads more like a work in progress than an adaption of a powerful horror novel that’s been in print for over 30 years.
It’s April 1944 and a unit of Wehrmacht soldiers occupy an old “keep,” a fort-like structure in the Dinu Pass of Romania in the Transylvanian Alps that’s rumored to be over 500 years old. Crosses are imbedded in the walls. Men start dying mysterious deaths. Meanwhile, in Taviera, Portugal, a man wakes up after sensing a shift in the Force. He sets out by land and sea to you-know-where. The Captain in charge of the Wehrmacht unit sends a request for help to HQ. A Major from the SS, notorious from his “success” at Auschwitz, is sent by HQ to secure The Keep. The Captain and the Major have a history together that goes back to the trenches of World War I. One man was brave, one man was a coward. Considering that one man is regular Army and the other SS, you can probably guess which man is presented as the coward. Even the highly-trained SS men begin to die. A message in an ancient language is scrawled on the wall with blood. The caretaker offers up that there’s an old man, a Professor in Bucharest, who can translate the message. The Professor is old and sick and Jewish. He is brought to The Keep along with his daughter who is his caretaker. The Professor stalls the soldiers. The man from Portugal arrives. The murderous presence reveals itself to the Professor. The daughter instantly hooks-up with the man from Portugal.
To find out how it all ends, you’ll have to read the graphic novel yourself. It’s just over 100 pages so it won’t take long. You can also read the original novel (403 pages in paperback) or see the 1983 movie (95 minutes) that the author and critics disliked, which I will do in the near future as it’s currently available for streaming from Netflix.
Jennifer Egan also wrote a horror novel titled The Keep (2007). I still have an ARC of that novel on my shelves and I know I read it, but don’t recall enough to offer my opinion on it. It’s odd that her publisher would publish a novel with the same title of a book that’s a cult classic. Perhaps they were banking on confusion?
Title: The Keep
Written by: F. Paul Wilson
Art by: Matthew Dow Smith
Publisher: IDW Publishing, October 2011
Genre: graphic novel
My Goodreads rating: 1/5
Recommend to: vampire fans and WWII fiction fans
Note: originally published in 5 separate comic books