Book Review: Through the Woods: Stories by Emily Carroll

This is undoubtedly one of my favorite books of 2014. It’s delightfully creepy and beautifully illustrated. The understated horror of the series of stories are thought-provoking, preying on the basest of human fears.

Through the Woods: Stories by Emily Carroll

Published: July 15th 2014 by Margaret K. McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster
Source: local library
ISBN: 9781442465954
Find: Goodreads | Amazon

Genre: graphic novels, short stories, young adult horror
Synopsis‘It came from the woods. Most strange things do.’

Five mysterious, spine-tingling stories follow journeys into (and out of?) the eerie abyss.

These chilling tales spring from the macabre imagination of acclaimed and award-winning comic creator Emily Carroll.

Come take a walk in the woods and see what awaits you there…

through the woods book review

My thoughts:

Horror is not my go-to genre. I often find it too flashy for my taste. I enjoy being scared, but prefer spine-tingling creepy and grotesquely beautiful to over-the-top blood and guts. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll’s stories about disobeying one’s parents and exploring the woods, the secrets revealed after an unwanted, arranged marriage, monsters in mythical beast as well as human form, contacting spirits, and the unsettling but unnamed fear of a loved one’s new partner, and again, why one should not wander the woods, are all scary in the psychological sense, preying on base fears while subverting classic horror tropes.

While the stories themselves are morbid and frightening in the best way, the presentation only adds to their effectiveness. The interplay of hand-lettered text, bright and bold splashes of color, and the panels all work together to create a layers to the story that demand a close examination and multiple readings.

And while this book appeals to fans of horror, it’s more than that. It’s for lovers of poetry, for readers who devour dark fantasy, and for anyone who loves a good fairy tale.

Recommended for fans of: The Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff, Flight of Angels by Rebecca Guay, Raven Girl by Audrey Niffenegger

Second opinions:

Comics Alliance: “There are so many cleverly constructed turns of phrase here that through all of the horror, sometimes you have to also stifle a grin at the sheer joy of one word next to another next to an image. 

Through The Woods is, without question, one of the singular experiences in comics this year.

Women Write About Comics: “The art of Through the Woods manages to be delicate, whimsical, and terrifying all at once.”

NPR: “The whole book is magnificently executed: the work with color, character, contrast, perspective, layout, lettering, is all dextrous and varied and absolutely masterful. It’s Gorey with less humor and more eloquence, elegance and poise; in place of whimsy is a wicked sense of pace, threat and a lurking delight in causing terror.”



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