STORIES | I’m not a fan of spooky stories, except for this one. A review of Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods.

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.

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll book illustration by Asti

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.

atypicalnarrative illustration: I have never been so pleased to be spooked by a story, a recommendation of Emily Carroll's Through the Woods

If you’re curious about this book and want to know more, I would recommend checking out Emily Carroll’s websiteIt 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).

Let’s Chat

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.

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9 thoughts on “STORIES | I’m not a fan of spooky stories, except for this one. A review of Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods.

  1. I read this when I was at a bookstore waiting for an author event and I loved it! I’m so glad you gave it a shot. 😀 You’re right about her choice of colors and how well they served the stories! Gosh, you make me want to read it again lol.

    Also, I love your illustrations for this post! Your style is really growing!

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    1. I was flipping through it just to write my review (since I had read it like a month ago) and even doing that made me want to re-read it! I think I’ll wait until October rolls around though. Will be the right time of year to get spooky 😉

      And thanks! I originally had different illustrations for this post but decided to whip this up over the weekend instead and was quite happy with the result. My next few posts will contain older illustrations so they’re sort of jumping all over the place here on the blog, but eventually it’ll even out, right? haha.

      (Also, love the new email address!)

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  2. I LOVE these drawings! I read and enjoyed this, and I’m pretty sure it was on your recommendation? I guess Monstress is kind of fantasy-horror, and the art is gorgeous. Maybe you’d like that?

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    1. Hmm… did I recommend it to you? It was on my wishlist forever but I actually didn’t get a chance to buy it and read it until I moved over here. GR says I read it in June and you in March so either I recommended it as a book I was interested in but hadn’t read or someone else recommended it to you. Oh wait, GR says it was recommended to you by Simon! I’m not sure who that is but maybe you have us confused? haha.

      Ooh and I actually picked up the first volume of Monstress a week or two ago so perfect recommendation! Kelley really likes that series too. I’ll have to read it soon and let you guys know what I think. (I’m really bad at deciding when I’m going to read a graphic novel vs. my typical reads. I don’t mind reading them at the same time which I usually don’t do but deciding what’s a read for bed vs what’s a read for travel is work, haha.)

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      1. Oh, you’re right! I just assumed it was you because I couldn’t think of anyone else who’d read it, and I definitely didn’t pick it up on my own. But I do think we talked about it. Maybe you told me you had it and I suggested bumping it up your TBR?

        I hope you like it! I find comics harder to read in bed, since they’re not as sturdy.

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  3. I was going to say I don’t do horror, but I do actually read and watch quite a few creepy things. No idea why I do it to myself though. I watched Penny Dreadful a few years ago and even now there are times when I’m going to bed and the image of one of the very creepy witches lurking under a bed will pop into my mind and I will quickly *jump* into the bed… and I hate having drawers or cupboard doors left even slightly open… far too impressionable!

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    1. Haha, don’t worry, you’re not alone! There’s just something about the dark that makes me assume things are hiding and are just waiting for the right moment to come after me. I used to house sit at my Aunt’s and she had this long hallway leading to the bedroom and everytime I’d turn off the light to go to the bedroom I’d have to run as fast as I could through it because I just knew if I took my time something would come out of one of the doors or sneak up behind me. I would’ve hoped those silly fears would’ve disappeared as I have gotten older, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. 😛

      I do find scary books easier to read than movies/TV shows though. Something about being able to visually see things and jump scares really messes with me, where just reading words on a page makes it easier to separate myself. Well, I think…

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  4. I loved that book! It was so masterfully written and illustrated. And it creeped me out too. (But I don’t mind horror from time to time, so as far as I’m concerned that was good). The little epilogue thing played right into a lingering childhood terror of mine.

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    1. Yes, I’m glad you enjoyed it as well! I actually don’t remember the epilogue now so feel like I need to go open my copy back up to see what childhood terror you may be talking of, but hm, will I regret that decision? haha. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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