Occulted is an interesting comic. Despite its title, this isn’t a story with magic spells or paranormal aspects. It’s a story about a child, Amy, navigating living in a cult. It resembles a coming-of-age tale where Amy learns to find her voice. Though parts do captivate, and you root for Amy, the ending of Occulted feels rushed, even anticlimactic, although you cheer regardless.
Occulted is by Amy Rose, Ryan Estrada, and Jeongmin Lee and tells the story of Amy’s childhood. Published by Iron Circus Comics, the story begins with Amy’s once-everyday life upended when her family arrives at a yoga location that, in actuality, conceals a cult that preys on people. Amy is a child when her parents and siblings arrive, and through the cult leader, the mom eventually divorces the dad. Soon, the cult casts out Amy’s sisters, and though she remains, they alienate her.
Occulted Makes You Frustrated At The Adults
Your anger increases from the cult leader to the mom to random adults. Though not everyone is part of the cult, they blithely ignore how the leader treats Amy. The leader also randomly pawns Amy off on her followers, demanding they take her home with them. Feeling adrift at a time in life where home and family should be anchors makes you grit your teeth at each scene.
An Abusive Relationship
Cult leaders are no different than abusive partners. They use the exact manipulative nature to alienate you from those who care and belittle you enough to where you acquiesce to any demands. While cult leaders are charismatic, it still boggles the mind how much they achieve, especially in separating a parent from her kids. Sure, the leader lies to both mom and daughter, but the fact that the mom doesn’t bother to ask the daughter about those lies irks my soul. How do you allow a stranger to take your kids away?
Amy’s silent throughout most of the story because the horrid leader does not like hearing kids. She only wants Amy to speak when she needs to manipulate others or show yoga parents how much this cult loves kids. Amy’s solace in the written word is relatable. Most abusive people hate children playing or making noise, so books are often the only entertainment option. But here, they only want her to read specific cult material. Occulted’s magic lies in Amy’s imagination.
Finding Her Voice
Amy’s inquisitive nature allows her mind to blossom. Despite all her restrictions, she finds a way to read books secretly. She notices the inconsistencies between the cult’s text and other books. Occulted drives home both Amy’s strength and her love for her mom. It’s heartbreaking how Amy believes she has to take care of her mom. It’s hard not to harbor resentment toward many adults surrounding Amy. But the story is also eye-opening about the dangers of cults, as well as a warning that not all adults are decent.
Occulted is wild because it’s true. But there’s also so much the reader is left to wonder about that goes unanswered. Where are Amy’s sisters, what happened to her mom, etc. So the end leaves you with that incomplete feeling of “that’s it?” I enjoy reading only a few memoirs, and although not my favorite, Occulted stands out thanks to the illustrations. This book is for adults or kids to read, but don’t expect epic action or a complete ending.