House of Penance

House of Penance

A horrific take on the true story of the Winchester haunted house and one woman’s mission to wash away the blood curse of the Winchester rifle from claiming her own life and soul. This is a tale of guilt, ghosts, and guns . . . of how fortune brings misfortune as a grim and determined woman oversees the construction of a house twenty-four hours a day for twenty years, with...

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Title:House of Penance
Author:Peter J. Tomasi
Rating:
ISBN:1506700330
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Paperback
Number of Pages:176 pages

House of Penance Reviews

  • Paul
    Sep 21, 2016

    This book was absolutely incredible. A superb piece of psychological horror that takes the reader from reality to the pits of Hell and then back again (and then back again). This may be one of the most disturbing comicbooks I've ever read. I have a feeling it's going to linger in my subconscious for a long time.

    Ian Bertram draws things as they feel rather than as they are and the effect is so damned creepy I kept feeling the need to look behind me.

    If I had to compare the feeling I got reading

    This book was absolutely incredible. A superb piece of psychological horror that takes the reader from reality to the pits of Hell and then back again (and then back again). This may be one of the most disturbing comicbooks I've ever read. I have a feeling it's going to linger in my subconscious for a long time.

    Ian Bertram draws things as they feel rather than as they are and the effect is so damned creepy I kept feeling the need to look behind me.

    If I had to compare the feeling I got reading this book to something else... Well, it's similar to how I felt when I first read

    or the first time I watched

    .

    Be warned, though, if you like your artwork 'realistic' or your stories literal, this book's probably not for you. If you're the kind of person who likes to take your mind down to the river Styx, wash it in blood and wring it out once in a while, this book deserves a place in your collection.

    Anyway, I'd better go; the walls are starting to bleed again...

  • Timothy
    Sep 28, 2016

    This is certainly a different kind of horror comic. First of all, it's somewhat based on reality. Obviously big red tentacles didn't actually pop out and there are other liberties taken, but it's interesting enough that someone this crazy did exist and embarked on such a wild project. But the heart of the book isn't some retelling of history. That's the other thing that differentiates it from a genre full of monsters, body horror, and gore. It's a tale about guilt, the search for redemption, and

    This is certainly a different kind of horror comic. First of all, it's somewhat based on reality. Obviously big red tentacles didn't actually pop out and there are other liberties taken, but it's interesting enough that someone this crazy did exist and embarked on such a wild project. But the heart of the book isn't some retelling of history. That's the other thing that differentiates it from a genre full of monsters, body horror, and gore. It's a tale about guilt, the search for redemption, and obsession. The storytelling is fairly straightforward, with the emphasis being on the tone and atmosphere rather than the plotting and the horror stemming from this.

    With that said, what makes House of Penance stand out is Ian Bertram's wonderful art. It conveys the paranoia and madness perfectly, and the details and texture it lends to the story can't be overstated. The Winchester house's endless architecture and construction, the red tendrils that creep throughout, the weathered workers, everything looks fantastic. I'll definitely be looking for more books illustrated by Bertram in the future.

    (Read in single issue monthly format)

  • Lima
    Oct 31, 2016

    I thought it was horror but it isn't. It's a beautiful story about grief and guilt, and how murders are haunted by the ghosts of their victims. Basically, it displays both grief and guilt as "bloody monsters" to show how real their are to the people who feel them. Very interesting graphic novel.

  • Dawood
    Nov 02, 2016

    Im not so keen on the story, to me a story that has a villain or an evil a existence should be strong. And in my opinion t wasn't that strong in this story. The pacing is very slow, the events are not very mysterious or mind catching. I really enjoyed the artwork and style of illustrations. I would read it only once.

  • Zedsdead
    Mar 14, 2017

    A Winchester Rifle Co. heiress hires gunfighters and murderers to build a crazy mansion 24 hours a day, in perpetuity, in order to keep evil spirits from...doing...presumably bad stuff.

    Aimless, muddled, and largely plotless. The wealthy heiress is mad with grief and all of her workers are violent and wracked with guilt. Red tubes are used to represent...I'm not sure what they represent; not everyone can see them, they come and go without warning, and they don't seem to DO anything. There's somet

    A Winchester Rifle Co. heiress hires gunfighters and murderers to build a crazy mansion 24 hours a day, in perpetuity, in order to keep evil spirits from...doing...presumably bad stuff.

    Aimless, muddled, and largely plotless. The wealthy heiress is mad with grief and all of her workers are violent and wracked with guilt. Red tubes are used to represent...I'm not sure what they represent; not everyone can see them, they come and go without warning, and they don't seem to DO anything. There's something about how the bang of the hammers sounds like the bang of guns and this keeps the ghosts away. Ghosts don't like guns, I guess. Perhaps Tomasi was going for a profound meditation on how violence destroys both the victim and the perpetrator? It didn't work.

    And the art is ugly as hell, reminiscent of The Head Vanishes. The main character looks like a preying mantis, a full 40% of her head is eyes. In another book that might be symbolic; in this one it's just dumb.

  • Craig
    Jan 27, 2017

    More creepy than outright horrific, this is the engrossing story of the Winchester house and one widow's attempt to keep the spirits of gun victims from robbing her of her soul. Amazingly beautiful artwork throughout. Really well-done.

  • Sean Gibson
    Feb 01, 2017

    As a general rule, I don’t seek out stories that primarily classify themselves as horror stories—not, contrary to popular belief, because I’m a giant weenie, nor because I lack a strong stomach (having been on the receiving end—head to toe—of post-yogurt-consumption toddler puke (perhaps the vilest smelling substance in the history of creation) on multiple occasions and managed to hold down my lunch, I think my strength of stomach has proven itself to be sufficient to handle a little cartoon blo

    As a general rule, I don’t seek out stories that primarily classify themselves as horror stories—not, contrary to popular belief, because I’m a giant weenie, nor because I lack a strong stomach (having been on the receiving end—head to toe—of post-yogurt-consumption toddler puke (perhaps the vilest smelling substance in the history of creation) on multiple occasions and managed to hold down my lunch, I think my strength of stomach has proven itself to be sufficient to handle a little cartoon blood and guts); rather, it’s simply the case that I’m not a huge fan of creepy all the time. Still, every once in a while, I like some creepy, and this story sounded suitably interesting beyond the creepy factor (historical context, mysterious goings-on, men in search of redemption) to warrant checking out.

    I can’t say this would please hardcore horror aficionados, as the horror elements really do seem to be a secondary focus, but if you’re looking for a fast-moving, engrossing, off-kilter graphic novel that’s got lots of lovingly illustrated tendrils of blood and viscera as an ancillary benefit of reading the tale of a possibly crazy woman trying to protect her dead husband and child from malevolent spirits whilst simultaneously creating a halfway house for reformed murderers, this is the book for you.

    Ultimately, it’s more than the sum of its parts—broken down, I’m not sure any individual element recommends it; as a whole, however, it’s a very interesting and macabre narrative (albeit not as scary as yogurt-fueled toddler projectile vomit).

  • Sam Quixote
    Feb 01, 2017

    House of Penance is loosely based on the life of Sarah Winchester, the 19th century American heiress who went mad after the death of her husband and daughter, and then spent decades and a massive amount of the Winchester fortune on constant work on her San Jose mansion, which is still around and known today as the Winchester Mystery House (the house’s design is mental, full of staircases and doorways to nowhere).

    “Loosely” in that Peter J. Tomasi dramatizes Sarah’s life, changing her husband and

    House of Penance is loosely based on the life of Sarah Winchester, the 19th century American heiress who went mad after the death of her husband and daughter, and then spent decades and a massive amount of the Winchester fortune on constant work on her San Jose mansion, which is still around and known today as the Winchester Mystery House (the house’s design is mental, full of staircases and doorways to nowhere).

    “Loosely” in that Peter J. Tomasi dramatizes Sarah’s life, changing her husband and daughter’s death dates, as well as her own, to suit his narrative. And of course adding vengeful ghosts! I’m not sure whether or not the real Sarah Winchester only hired workers with bloody pasts (hence “penance”) but this book’s Sarah does.

    You know what House of Penance needs? A STORY! Crazy old Sarah thinks the house is haunted by the spirits of those killed by her in-laws’ creation the Winchester repeating rifle (fortune linking to misfortune in some yin/yang way) and the constant hammering of workmen somehow keeps them at bay – or something?! Wha - that’s not a story, that’s a premise, and yet that’s basically the entire book!

    There’s no sense of forward motion in this book. Sarah’s not really building towards somehow defeating the ghosts and the ghosts are mostly passive, so things remain static for the most part. I guess this was meant to be a portrait of grief and despair – what one woman’s tragedy led to? It’s just not very interesting to read when almost zero happens over the course of 170+ pages! There’s no insight, no emotion, no anything really. If it weren’t for Ian Bertram’s art this would be a total loss.

    Bertram’s stylized art is very eye-catching and suitably unsettling. The cross-hatching is effective in lending the book a horror sheen as are his character designs – Sarah’s bug-eyes were very creepy; she reminded me of Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I’m a huge fan of Frank Quitely’s work whose style looks to have heavily influenced Bertram’s, not just with Sarah’s facial structure but with the overall aesthetic, so I especially enjoyed the art on this one. The hallucinatory sequences were nightmarish, the tilting panels pages to highlight Sarah’s total descent into madness were a good choice, and several surreal splash pages stand out. While Tomasi’s narrative was lacking, Bertram’s visuals, aided by Dave Stewart’s dependable and masterful colouring, certainly weren’t.

    Maybe it would’ve been better with third-person narrative captions or giving Sarah a first-person overlay to focus things and give it better structure though, as it is, the authorial touch is too soft, especially as there’s barely anything happening besides Sarah hallucinating weird shit over and over. There’s nothing to really latch onto so I felt increasingly detached from the comic until I didn’t care anymore. House of Penance seemed like a promising horror comic but it turned out to be too vague and unimpressive. It looks awesome but a beautiful bore is still a bore.

  • Pop Bop
    Mar 07, 2017

    Like A Stairway in the Real Winchester House - It's Interesting Even If It Doesn't Lead Anywhere

    This is beautifully drawn and colored, but it is pretty much all premise with some interesting "incidents" that will probably keep you reading despite your misgivings.

    The premise is fine - the real Sarah Winchester spent twenty years and her share of the Winchester Arms fortune building a huge, gorgeous, weird house in San Jose, California. It's now a well-known and heavily visited tourist site - load

    Like A Stairway in the Real Winchester House - It's Interesting Even If It Doesn't Lead Anywhere

    This is beautifully drawn and colored, but it is pretty much all premise with some interesting "incidents" that will probably keep you reading despite your misgivings.

    The premise is fine - the real Sarah Winchester spent twenty years and her share of the Winchester Arms fortune building a huge, gorgeous, weird house in San Jose, California. It's now a well-known and heavily visited tourist site - loaded with doors to nowhere, stairways to nothing, and so on. For this book we assume that Winchester was haunted by the ghosts of victims of Winchester rifles and built the house to keep those ghosts at bay and to provide a safe haven for the spirits of victims.

    As far as story goes, we follow Sarah's descent into madness during the course of the construction. A lone former gunman stranger has ridden in to work on the house and he provides the outsider's view of what's going on. Sarah's coherence ebbs and flows. Various workmen offer interesting observations. Sometimes things happen. Everyone seems to have ghoulish flashbacks at one point or another. Ghosty visions appear - maybe only in Sarah's head or maybe "for real", there isn't any practical or narrative difference between the two. There's lots of tension, but no narrative tension and nothing to be resolved at the end.

    So, it's a mood piece, a character study, and a series of mini-stories drawn from Sarah's fictional reimagined life and motivations. That's O.K.. As it turned out, Sarah was interesting enough, the incidents were interesting enough, and the overall mood and feel of the book was creative and gripping enough that I stayed for the entire show.

    A lot of that is due to the drawing, pencils, inking and coloring. The blood tendrils that festoon each page got a little old, but almost every panel, splash page, and big scene had something interesting going for it. Sarah Winchester has a Gothic, Tuesday Addams, feel, and your eyes are drawn to her every time she's on the page. The House is a character as well, and great care has been taken to express the weird madness behind it. The ghosty/ghouly angle is a little less effective, for me, but the idea of spirits of killers and victims certainly gets across effectively.

    So, fine art and ambitious and interesting narrative. This is a one of a kind effort, and I was generally pleasantly surprised by how immersive it was. (Please note that I received a free advance will-self-destruct-in-x-days Adobe Digital copy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)

  • Nicole Martin
    Mar 17, 2017

    Muddled and plotless. A wealthy heiress is mad with grief and all of her workers are violent and wracked with feelings of guilt. Red tubes are used to represent...blood? Maybe a visual manifestation of the demons that plague her, but not everyone can see them, they come and go without warning, and they don't seem to DO anything. The art was creepy and different, so it had that going for it, but largely underwhelming and lacking in terms of the tension that makes for a solid horror story.