Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods is unlike any graphic novel I’ve read. Granted, I’m still in the process of immersing my life with them, but that’s another story. It is a collection of five creepy and suspenseful short stories that tickles the more macabre side of your imagination and lures the darkness out of it.
Like with any graphic novel, the art style plays a major part in the storytelling. The plot is not secondary to it; if anything, it manages to entertain and sends shivers down your spine at the same time, even though the style itself is quite simple and straightforward. It’s quite a feat all on its own. But this book would read differently had it just been a novel. As captivating as the stories are, the illustrations draw life into these tales, instilling a more vivid and mystic quality about them.
All five stories are short, though each one is slightly longer than the previous. The last one was the longest out of all five and the one with the more solid plot. This doesn’t mean the other stories are terribly written; they were just more abstract. My personal favourites were “A Lady’s Hands are Cold”, which combines text and art in the best way possible (wherein it imitates a haunting voice floating through the manor in which it’s set), and “His Face All Red”, which has been floating around the web for some time before it was republished in this book.
I never thought that any of the stories were too short or dragged on for too long. They all end ambiguously in a way that makes your mouth drop open and say ‘oh, shit’, which I personally love. What’s even better is that each story has a different art style, colour scheme, and even layouts—everything that makes a graphic novel as powerful as it is, it does it five times as many.
I wouldn’t say it’s suitable for the faint of heart. Nothing is overtly gory or gruesome, but they are unsettling. And creepy. Nothing is ever as they seem. There is nothing mundane about these stories, even though they may start out that way.
Through the Woods is a highly suspenseful and eerie graphic novel worth several rereads. I recommend to those who are fans of dark fairy tales, retellings or otherwise, or those with a passion for unsettling graphic novels that hook you in from the first page.
If you’ve made it this far into my post, thank you for reading! Have you read Through the Woods before? If so, what did you think? If not, would you want to? Let me know in the comments and I’ll see you in my next post!
Until next time,