The House of Refuge is one of the Mystery Houses, meant to be used as a refuge and to provide help to those in need. When corrupted by the serial killer Katie Bender, it became the Shatterbox, a haunted house of legend.
The House of Refuge is over a millennium old, dating back to at least 960 CE. Capable of moving locations on its own, it also could change appearances in order to blend in with the style of the time and area. Built as a refuge, the house helped those who were in need. Those who came upon it would find their every need and requirement fulfilled; either indirectly by the house or through wishing. Once the need of the occupant was satisfied and they left, the house would move on to a new location and others in need.
In the late 1800s, the house was found by the Bloody Benders, a family of serial killers on the run from those who'd discovered their crimes. The daughter of the family, Katie Bender, realized that the house was special and forced the house to become her base of operations to lure in and kill countless people, using its powers to become immortal and invincible. Although she used the house's ability to relocate itself to find new victims, the house became stuck in the style of a 19th century American frontier house, the era and style that was most familiar to Katie.
The house tried to resist Katie's dark needs by warning off Katie's victims, trying to scare them away through various means. However, it was unable to break free from her, as her desire to kill was too strong. She was aware that the house hated her and found it funny, playing into the house's attempts to scare off her prey by pretending to be a victim herself in order to lure them in. Over the next century, the house became the basis of all haunted house legends, from the houses on the hill that drive paranormal investigators mad to the sorority houses in slasher movies. As those who studied the Mystery Houses were not aware of the corruption of the House of Refuge, they believed it to be a new mystery house and called it the "Shatterbox".
In 2014, the House of Refuge came to the attention of Eve Baird and the Librarians when they encountered Katie, blood-covered and pretending to be terrified, in the woods in Slovakia. She claimed that her friends had been taken by someone in the house, tricking the Librarians into helping her. The house once again tried to scare her potential victims off. It employed a number of different tricks, including shaking, throwing knives into walls, creating phantom footsteps, and causing visions of previous victims. When the Librarians continued to search the house, it sought to reach out to them for help instead, using photographs and visions in an attempt to tell them what had happened to it.
Katie used her connection with the house to turn its spirit into the Hammer Man, a man made of darkness and smoke, carrying a blood-caked crate hammer. Through the Hammer Man, she trapped them in the house and destroyed their car, but the house fought back by pulling Ezekiel Jones and Jacob Stone into a doll house where they were safe from Katie. By providing them with their desires--video games, beer, and samosas, in Ezekiel's case--and showing them more pictures of its past, it gave them the clues needed for them to figure out that the house was not inherently evil, but that something had gone very wrong.
When Katie revealed herself as the killer and pursued Cassandra Cillian through the house, she also explained her relationship with the house. This allowed Cassandra to understand what had happened to the house, and she began to forge her own connection to it. Cassandra's need to save her friends proved stronger than Katie's need to kill; this broke Katie's connection to the house, ending her immortality and allowing Cassandra to kill her.
Freed of Katie's influence, the house returned to its true appearance, with its spirit turning from the Hammer Man into a kindly old butler. It helped the Librarians, including repairing their car. As they drove away, the house appeared in doll house form in the back of their car, implying that it would accompany them to the Library.
Much like Excalibur, the House of Refuge is a living magical artifact.Created to help people, it will manifest an avatar of a kindly old butler when directly interacting with guests. According to Cassandra, it is at its happiest when helping others. It keeps pictures of the people it helped through the ages.
While under Katie's influence, the house and avatar turned monstrous and it became depressed. Despite this, it would still attempt to help Katie's victims. Katie was the only person the house ever outright hated.
Wish Granting: The House of Refuge is able to understand the needs of those within it and fulfill them, as well as granting wishes.
Teleportation/Translocation: The House of Refuge is able to relocate itself to anywhere in the world instantaneously, although only at midnight.
Manifestation: The House is able to manifest its spirit as a physical being, either the Hammer Man (when corrupted) or a kindly old butler (when healed).
Transformation: The House can change its appearance to match its current location and era. It is also able to transform its interior, moving objects around and creating or removing items at will. The House can also transform its occupants, as Katie Bender became immortal and invincible, while Jacob Stone and Ezekiel Jones were shrunk down and transported inside a doll house.
Perception Alteration: The House of Refuge is able to make people inside it see visions of the past, as well as creating disturbing sights and sounds.
- The haunted house aspect of the House of Refuge was inspired by the Dionaea House multimedia novel by Eric Heisserer, as well as the concept of "that one house" that local children find creepy and know to avoid.
- The first floor and grounds of the house were a real house, while the second floor was a set.
- In order to get the house to look appropriately spooky, the art department and Director of Photography covered most of the windows with curtains, shutters, and boards, limiting the light inside.
- Thorne, Geoffrey (writer) & Harrison, John (director) (January 11, 2015). "And the Heart of Darkness". The Librarians. Season 1. Episode 8. TNT.
- Rogers, John, Geoffrey Thorne, John Harrison, Rebecca Romijn, and Lindy Booth. Audio Commentary. "And the Heart of Darkness", The Librarians, season 1, episode 8, TNT, 2016.