Shadows House, Vol. 1

Yen Pr. Jul. 2022. 160p. pap. $13. ISBN 9781975345921.
Gr 6 Up–Shadows House has an excellent premise: there exists a mansion filled with mysterious, faceless shadow nobles who must use living dolls to express themselves. It promises a creepy atmosphere stuffed with lore. Unfortunately, it does not deliver on that premise. The book’s tone is all over the place but frequently settles on slice-of-life comedy with the occasional horror-adjacent interlude. Tragically, even the comedy doesn’t land. This largely comes down to the cast. For almost the entirety of this first volume, there are only two characters: a single shadow noble and her doll. The former has no expression, due to her blacked-out character design, and speaks about herself in the third person. The other is the young, silly maid stereotype. There’s no depth to either and no story or lore beyond their flat antics. The art is more successful than the story, but the all-black design of the shadow nobles, which looks cool in standalone images, doesn’t work for the lead character. Additionally, excessive cross-hatching in the backgrounds comes across as muddy and overworked more than ominous.
VERDICT Despite a cool premise, this is difficult to recommend with its flat characters, inconsistent tone, and lack of story.

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