House, by Josh Simmons, is a silent graphic novel. From the back cover,
Josh Simmons' first original graphic novel is a haunting, entirely wordless story about a group of teenagers who discover a mysterious, abandoned mansion in the the forest. Their curiosity draws them inside, where both adventure and unexpected tragedy await.
I was intrigued by the silent graphic novel concept, plus the book was short and beautifully illustrated, so I checked it out from the library.
Because there are no words, much of the plot is left up to the reader, using the illustrated panels as guidance. Dialogue is inferred from facial expressions and body language. Unless explicitly drawn, I took it upon myself to have the freedom to do anything I wanted.
The story has a simple premise, and it works wonderful with the medium used. Simmons' use of black and white pen drawings is moody and reminiscent of Edward Gorey. It captures the abandoned feel of the house perfectly. The color balance subtly shifts from start to close, adding a thick atmosphere to the bleak tale.
And that's pretty much it. The book is very short and some of the illustrations are confusing (I had to study a few panels to understand what happened), but for the most part, House is an engrossing tale. Granted, because of the open-plot, there are many questions unanswered by the conclusion. Prominently, who the heck is the guy on the cover?
I have my theories and ideas, but in the end, they don't really matter. If you're looking for an eye-opening, brilliant graphic novel, House isn't it. But if you're wanting an adventure, thick with claustrophobia and tragedy, and some beautiful artwork, check this book out.
It's interesting to note that I dreaded turning the pages as I progressed through the book. Suffice it to say, again, this book is a tragedy and will leave you feeling uneasy by its conclusion. It's also been classified as a horror story, and I can agree with this to an extent.
For anyone that's read the book, were you as curious as I was about the abandoned city the trio found first? What happened? A massive sinkhole? I thought that was pretty cool.