Book Review: Through the Woods (Emily Carroll)


Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Pages: 208

Release Date: 1st January 2014

Blurb (from Goodreads):

‘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…


This is a book I’ve had my eye on for a while, and my partner picked it up a couple of weeks ago for us both to read.

The book contains five short stories (plus an intro and a prologue), which I’ve decided to do separate, mini reviews of, but I have to say first off, as a whole I completely adored this book. It was haunting and beautiful and has completely inspired me too.

An Introduction

These first few pages play on a fear that almost everyone has had: fear of the dark, of something moving in the dark, of something waiting for you just outside the light that protects you. It feels like a warning of things to come in the book.

Our Neighbor’s House

This was a lovely introduction into the style of story. It felt very much like a fairy tale: the way the story progressed with the three sisters and the focus on the three cloaks made me think of Goldilocks and Red Riding Hood all in one (especially as the sister narrating has a red cape). It also sets the tone for the rest of the book: the ending is ominous and resolves nothing

A Lady’s Hands Are Cold

This was definitely my favourite of them all, It contains a really haunting rhyme that stuck in my head and completely creeped me out, as well as some of the most beautiful illustrations to go with it. I read fast and I know I should probably take longer with illustrations in graphic novels, and in this one I did double take and have at deeper look a bits, because I kept noticing lots of different elements. The image of the lady in the walls was truly haunting.

His Face All Red

I really enjoyed this story too, but it did leave me wanting more. I wanted – no, needed – to know what had happened to the brother. This tale really dragged me in from the beginning and is a creepy tale of jealousy. I know the ambiguity is part of what makes it so chilling, but I wanted it to go on much longer.

My Friend Janna

This was probably my least favourite – not because it was bad, but someone has to take last place. I thought the introduction parts were a little long and I wanted it to get to the creepy stuff sooner. It did have a brilliant climax though, and the illustrations really dragged out the tension and the picture to go with the twist at the end is brilliant.

The Nesting Place

I felt like this was maybe the ‘main’ story, mostly as it felt like the longest. Again, the setup was possibly a little slow for me, but the payoff was brilliant. The monster of this story was not only creepy but really horrifying looking: it could have been comic if it wasn’t so disgusting. The ending too, was perfect. Just when you think you may have found a happy ending, you are very mistaken.

In Conclusion

This is just a tiny bit, not really a story at all, but it was one of my favourite parts. Its morbid message is like the cautionary part of every fairy tale all rolled into one.

I’ve read a few graphic novels before but this is my favourite in a long time. The short stories are reminiscent of Neil Gaiman and Grimm tales and are showcased beautifully with haunting illustrations. I’d recommend this to anyone, whether you’re a fan of graphic novels or not.

My Verdict:

Copy of an art exhibit

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