When I first got the pleasure of reading Christie Shinn’s Personal Monsters, I knew I was going to be a long time fan. That book opened my eyes to not only the wonderful world of people watching, but the human condition—human nature and the bullshit that comes with it. And the worst part was that I could see bits and pieces of all those monsters in myself.
When I heard that Christie Shinn had put out a new book, I got so hyped. A Murder of Crows: And Other Horrible Things to See is just as insightful as Personal Monsters, but with less text. This short but impressive collection of artwork provides a look into the human psyche, the fragility of the mind, and the extents that we are capable of thinking.
The phrase “a murder of crows” is in and of itself a strange one. Why a group of crows is called a “murder” is beyond me, but the word alone makes us think in dark tones. The mind wanders from that to much more sinister things. This book is a compilation of uncomfortable images that are sure to unsettle the reader(s).
I’m a big fan of horror. Anyone who knows me knows I live for darker books like this one. The monsters, creatures, demons, wolves, etc. are all right up my alley. I must admit, though, that my favorite part of this book has to be the illustrations that depict not only the stretch of the human imagination, but the realistic and everyday inadequacies that the vast majority of us feel. For anyone with a low self-esteem or mental disorders, it’s easy and usually unavoidable to feel like we’re not good enough. Christie Shinn unapologetically shows us a visualization of the way we’re feeling—and it’s the most beautiful/awful thing I’ve ever seen.
Christie Shinn has a talent for making us face the truth. Honestly, it’s something I both love and am terrified of. A book has never been so relatable. From razorblades to cigarettes, fright to paranoia, this book presents them all in a very horrific-but-gorgeous way. The watercolor art style and general unrealistic images create a really atmospheric and uncomfortable tone.
I use words like “unsettling” and “awful” in the best way. This is one of the most aesthetically pleasing books I’ve ever read. Yeah, it hits you like a brick, but in a fantastic epiphany sort of way. Shinn’s artwork always does more than show a picture or drawing. It evokes emotion and makes sure we feel each one to its fullest effect.
If you’ve never read or seen any of Christie Shinn’s work, I couldn’t use any amount of words from any amount of languages to tell you what you’re missing out on. Her mind is truly something to revel in, and this book is one of the best ways to do so.
Written & Illustrated by: Christie Shinn