By: A. Kirana
Houses of the Holy continues to deliver. Since my initial review, I have caught up with the past episodes, which I highly recommend doing so. The episodes are short, quick reads, but the caliber of the storytelling is in no way affected by the brevity in its telling. Each episode draws you further into this nightmarish tale, set in Nazi ruled 1930s Berlin. If the horror of the era was not enough, it is made even more so by the three monsters terrorizing the area.
Magda Bescu, the immortal child vampire with a brain tumor that is just as immortal as she is. Welcome, a basilisk, who in its final stage of life turns to stone and has chosen to become a house where Magda resides. Finally, Gottlieb Kunst, Director of the Ministry of Propaganda; though he may be human, he may be the most monstrous of the three.
This is not your ordinary vampire tale, and I urge you not to dismiss it based on the recent crop of sparkly vampires saturating the literary world. Magda’s character is neither romanticized nor glamorized. She does not try to turn hapless victims, but she does feed on them. The tumor, lodged in her brain was killing her prior to herself being turned, is still a apart of her. The longer Magda goes without feeding, the larger the tumor grows, eating away at the healthy tissue as well as her memories, leaving her but a shell of who she once was and only knowing the need to feed. Ah, even the way she feeds is a thing of horrific beauty. Rather than biting her victims, tentacle-like appendages, snake out of her, latching on much like a leech would, and draining her helpless prey. When their hunger consumes them, Magda goes out in search of prey, though from time to time, the hapless wander into Welcome. The hunt is made difficult for Magda, for she is seen as prey because she is a child of the Roma gypsies and there is an open season on those of her race.
In Episode #9 entitled Hunger Pangs, Magda’s hunger sends her out to hunt, against Welcome’s better judgement. He urges her to wait, since the Gestapo was out in force, searching for her last victim. She fears the tumor consuming all that she is, and the urgency of her hunger makes her reckless, as Welcome’s pleas go unheeded. Finding prey was eluding her, her desperation was making her careless, and she mistook a stranger’s offer to bring her to get food as a kindness, but his intentions was not so altruistic, since he brought her directly to the Gestapo, in hopes of the promised reward Kunst offered for any Roma gypsy child.
I cannot state enough how much Madefire’s motion comic platform is the perfect medium for this title. The whole experience gets under your skin. I have to admit, when Magda’s feeding tendrils jutted out of her, I cringed away from my screen. Just a word of advice, if you’re planning on picking up a new horror story, make it this one, but do yourself a favor and read it with the lights on.
Next episode: Monsters – Who will turn out to be the most evil creature preying on Berlin, Kunst or Magda?