Review: The House That Groaned by Karrie Fransman

Karrie Fransman’s first graphic novel is a story of disparate bodies and the ties they form in the space that contains them. Sombre and dark with bursts of delight. Read our review of this brilliantly crafted snapshot of human interaction.

From the first page you get immersed in a refreshingly unconventional visual style for a graphic novel of this type. It can seem a little jarring at first, but very quickly becomes a perfect vehicle for the story.

As the story opens up and you are introduced to the inhabitants of the eponymous House, you get treated of a series of poignant moments that all happen in near silence. The odd sound effect serves to highlight the void and emphasise just how alone all these characters start out.

It doesn’t take long to see that Fransman employs a unique method of storytelling in The House That Groaned. She builds up the interlocking lives of the various characters, bringing cohesion to previously disparate parts, both within their personalities and within the house. Through the book, they merge until there is one seamless series of events. As a reader, you start to feel comfortable with the evolving relationships that were once so solitary. Then in a dramatic and totally unforeseen coups de grace, she upends everything that she, and the characters, have created. (I don’t want to ruin the ending, so I shan’t say more than that.)

You are left retracing your steps, trying to figure out exactly where it all started to go wrong, all the way back to the front cover, where you realise from the title that it was the house that was the grumbling protagonist all along and the occupants just bit parts with treacherous pasts.

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Karrie  Fransman is a comic creator who has had work featured in The Times and The Guardian.
You can see more of her work at www.karriefransman.com

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