I don’t tend to do horror. Scary movies, haunting books, spooky stories, they’re generally not my cup of tea. I mean, c’mon, I am one of those adults who still sleeps with a teddy bear and doesn’t trust the dark. I’m definitely not made for the grim and disturbing.
That being said, I have found it incredibly hard to resist reading all the graphic novels these days so when Stacey recommended Through the Woods by Emily Carroll I knew I had to give it a go no matter how unsure I was of the spooks inside. (You can read her review here!)
And I’m so glad I did.
The illustrations inside this book are absolutely striking.
I really enjoyed being able to take my time with each page, admiring all the little details and stylistic choices Carroll decided to include. The illustrations are perfect at setting the mood and guiding the reader through the story, with captivating composition and striking lines. And I particularly liked the use of primary colors to make certain elements of the story pop.
Honestly, if you see Through the Woods while browsing a bookstore, you must grab it and just do a quick flip through. Even without paying attention to the words this book is a beauty to behold.
But the stories are just as good.
This book has five or so haunting short stories and each glued me to the pages. As I said I’m not a huge fan of horror, but Carroll did a great job of teasing me along with each story, keeping me wondering what was going to happen to next. I’m not sure that the text would stand as well on its own without the illustrations, reading like little folk tales that would be told around a campfire, but together they are absolute perfection.
Really, I think short stories lead themselves quite well to horror because you never get to know enough to fully understand what’s going on. The open endings, the things that stay in the dark, the haunting hints towards what you don’t know. It all really adds to the mood and allows your imagination to go absolutely wild (which if you’re like me, isn’t always a good thing). I wouldn’t recommend reading this one at night, in a stranger’s bed, in an unknown town.
If you’re curious about this book and want to know more, I would recommend checking out Emily Carroll’s website. It has a handful of other horror comics she’s done, free to read on her website, and will give you a nice little taste of what to expect from Through the Woods (though I do think I prefer the short stories in the book over the comics listed on her site).
I’ve not read a book like this before, but I would love to read more in the future. If you have any recommendations of similar books, shoot them my way! (Preferably with illustrations, though I wouldn’t mind checking out a horror novel without someday. Maybe a YA horror would be a little more in my comfort zone?)
Also, have you read Through the Woods? Want to? Tell me what you think in the comments below. I’d love to chat further about this haunting collection of short stories.