Comic Review of "Through the Woods" by Emily Carroll

This week, we’re heading into the unknown with a review of Emily Carroll’s “Through the Woods,” a collection of five short horror comics that are guaranteed to give you the creeps.

Anyone who knows me knows that I hate anything that is too scary. Despite this, I have always been both enchanted and terrified by the talented horror comics of Carroll. Her debut book, “Through the Woods,” is a beautiful collection of her work. Though this book contains only five short comics, each one is just as chilling as the last. In the opening tale, "Our Neighbor's House," three sisters are left alone in an isolated cabin after the disappearance of their father. In "A Lady’s Hands Are Cold," a woman is married off to a wealthy man and begins to piece together his sinister past. “His Face All Red” is the haunting story of a brother returned from the dead. “My Friend Janna” shows us the consequences of meddling with spirits. Perhaps the most horrifying of the collection is the comic “The Nesting Place,” in which a young girl visits her brother and discovers that his fiancée is not who she seems.

The stories in “Through the Woods'' read like wonderfully dark fairy tales. Our protagonists lose their way in forests, encounter horrible creatures, and learn not to trust strangers. The narratives all seem to take place somewhere in the past, giving them a sense of timelessness. Carroll harkens back to an era before phones or the internet when it was easier to lose contact with people and so much of the world was still unknown. This makes the characters more vulnerable to the strange events they’ll confront, and makes the reader all the more unsettled.

Carroll is an incredible storyteller. She knows how to craft a sense of unease that runs through each of her stories, drawing you further into the nightmare no matter how much you want to turn back. Her art style can go from elegant and detailed to stark and disturbing in just a few brushstrokes; often before you have even registered the change. Carroll’s lettering is just as deliberate. Softly spoken dialogue conveyed through looping handwriting can quickly turn to the shouts of an angry creature in jagged, distorted script. “Through the Woods” contains some of the scariest hand-lettering you will ever encounter. I recommend Carroll’s “Through the Woods” to anyone looking for a few good scares, some stunning artwork, and a lingering sense of dread that will follow you long after you’ve closed the book.

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