The House of Shadows and Soot

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I’m always game for a story with an interesting premise, that teases you just enough to feel that there is something more going on underneath the surface. Shadows House intrigued me the moment I read the premise, and kept me glued to my screen as each chapter slowly peeled away at the veil that clouded over the truth.

The story follows Emiriko, a ‘living doll’ that serves her mistress Kate in a massive mansion closed off to the outside world known as the Shadow House. If the dark, isolated mansion isn’t a red flag enough, Kate’s silhouette is visibly identical to Emiriko’s. In fact, you could say that Kate is a silhouette, with no visible face, and body covered in black soot that continues to emanate from her body.

Kate isn’t alone. All the masters of Shadows House are the same, with each Shadow master having a living doll that is identical to them. Having no face, it is the living doll’s duty to be the ‘face’ of their shadow master as well as regularly clean the soot that is emitted by their bodies.

The series follows Emiriko and Kate and their time at Shadows House, trying to integrate with everyone at the house. As their relationship grows however, the two begin to realise something isn’t quite right about the house they live in.

Of course, Emiriko is completely oblivious to this all at the start. Initially a happy-go-lucky living doll, she couldn’t care less about what’s going on around her. Perfectly content with being able to serve her mysterious shadow master and live out her life cleaning every day instead.

Piecing together the mystery is only part of the fun of course. Shadows House is a title filled with interesting characters that are charming, and fun to read (or watch). They are distinct, have unique personalities and are always entertaining to read about. Interacting with each other, the characters also create interesting drama within Shadows House that keep things interesting, especially regarding the interactions between the shadow masters and their ‘faces.’

The story also comes with great artwork that is detailed and beautiful, following a somewhat gothic aesthetic to both the environments and the characters themselves. I can’t really say I’m a fan of the animated adaptation though. Reading the original source material was the best choice for me.

Shadows House decides to hold on to its hand of cards, laying down all the hints and clues, allowing the reader to ‘figure it out’ before any big reveals, which will sometimes test your patience. Sadly, I can’t guarantee that the reveals will always be satisfying, but the characters are likable and charming enough to help overlook any flaws that might break the immersion of the story (for me anyway).

At first, I was sceptical at the premise being able to hold its own after the big reveal, but I was happy to be proven wrong. As much as I would love to talk more about the mysteries within Shadows House, this is a story that shouldn’t be spoiled for the best enjoyment. All I can say is that youis that if you’re looking for a unique mystery with some supernatural and thriller elements splashed in, this comic (or animated show) is definitely worth your time and attention. A hidden gem of a story that does everything it sets out to do well, and doesn’t lose momentum as the story progresses.

By Shanuka Kadupitiyage