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The Lost Journals of Phineas Finke by Stephen Barnwell

Dark, unsettling, and unique…..

Barnwell delivers an disquieting account of a Victorian era photographer discovering the menacing dark alternating universe in his latest illustrated horror. May, 1906. While experimenting with new emulsions for his negative plates, veteran photographer Phineas Finke develops an emulsion that uses a new metal radium. The first picture that he develops with it offers unexpected results, with Olivia, his neighbor’s young daughter and his photographic subject, surrounded by clusters of glowing orbs. Finke returns to the Transue farm to take more photographs, unaware his experiment will open the door to an ominous otherworldly dimension, bringing devastation in its wake. Structured as a single narrative, the book opens in the form of journal entries from Finke. Finke’s neurotic, edgy journey into obsession and madness is beautifully portrayed: his enthusiasm is on full display as he begins to spot small clusters of glowing spheres. But as he becomes consumed with unraveling the mystery of unidentified objects, the latter begin to turn into strange Creatures, taking over the whole town and eventually his home. (Finke will remind readers of Shelley’s Victor, who after becoming obsessed with the secret of life in ‘Frankenstein,’ brought chaos in his life). It’s unsettling, disturbingly dark almost, as the story becomes more and more grim, keeping readers turning pages fast. Barnwell employs panel layouts, with picture book–like two-page spreads; one page is reserved for the photograph and the other displays the text. Black-and-white images against gray backgrounds compliment the story’s dark tone. Throughout, Barnwell deftly explores themes of obsession, curiosity, willful ignorance, and how one person’s single decision can alter not only their own life but also the lives of those around them. This grim portrait of the artist as a monster creator is a keeper. 

The Lost Journals of Phineas Finke

Stephen Barnwell

Antarctica Arts;

Buy now

ISBN 978-1733964982

Pub date April 1, 2023

Price $29.95 (USD) Hardcover

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