Sarah Winchester made a name for herself when she began to use her immense fortune to build a massive home in San Jose, California. Her fortune came from the profits made off of the Winchester rifle. After her husband and daughter died a short time apart from each other, she claimed that a psychic told her that the continual sounds of building were the only way to keep evil spirits from claiming her and plunging the souls of her family into darkness. The new graphic novel, House of Penance, takes this story even further.
House of Penance features a fragile, but younger, Sarah Winchester commanding a group of former murderers as they work to build her elaborate mansion for spirits of those killed by the rifle that bears her family name. She provides plans that include doors to nowhere and large ballrooms with as little hardware usage as possible. When a man with a reputation for taking out folks who don’t want to leave valuable land comes to Sarah for a job, he finds himself having confronting the very real and frightening ghosts of his past. These include strange worm like red strands and the trapped souls of all those killed from gun violence, as well as nearly falling out of those doors to nowhere. He quickly becomes invaluable, and the two must keep construction going to keep the spirits at bay.
If you’re a fan of the artwork from any incarnation of the Hellboy series, you may find this comic close to home. The reds and grays are accented with dark black and deeply unsettling imagery. There are images of children with bullet holes through their heads, begging to find out why they’ve been killed. It’s a twisted comic that will leave you unsettled and picturing individual pages long after you’ve closed it. The graphic novel includes all six issues of the miniseries, making it easier to follow the often chaotic and frightening story. Peter Tomasi and Ian Bertram do an incredible job.
House of Penance is available from Dark Horse now.