on July 15, 2014
This is an excellent and gorgeous collection of five stories by Emily Carroll (four new, one old). Carroll's stories are creepy as hell and not to everyone's taste, so go to her website (emcarroll.com) and read "His Face all Red". If you liked it, you'll like this book. If you didn't like it, you won't like this book. (The stories in "Through the Woods" are all in the same fairy tale/horror vein as "Face all Red", and "Face all Red" is actually in the book.)
Also, be forewarned that the stories are pretty gruesome. Definitely not a book for children.
on September 11, 2014
Do you remember what it was like to be a child? Surrounded by adults who are certain that the world is solid all the way through, that nothing lurks in the dark corners of your room just because you can't see for sure. But you... you aren't so sure. You're just young enough that the world still seems magical, dangerous, impossible to predict. And then you see something you can't explain, something the adults assure you can't exist- but it sees you right back. And it's smiling. And it looks hungry.
I've been a fan of Emily Carroll for a long time, wholly because her stories beautifully encapsulate that feeling of helplessness, of inexplicable danger, that comes at a certain age. I've often wondered why her stories are so chilling to me, and why other contemporary horror/fable/fantasy artists don't have the same effect. I think there is a temptation to avoid threatening young people- not to necessarily never put them in dangerous situations, but certainly to imply that they were never in any -real- danger. It seems that, with a few exceptions (Neil Gaiman being one), if someone is hurt or killed, they must have deserved it, and if our protagonist is to survive, they must be fundamentally a good person.
Carroll, for the most part, leaves morality out of the equation. Whether or not you're a good person makes no difference to the hungry wolf. The dangers of this world are large, oblique, and irreverent of your hopes. No one can predict when the worst happens, and when it happens there are some who live, and some who die. But there are none who get away without scars. And it's only a matter of time before the inevitable.
There's a great deal to be said about this compilation. It's notable that, with one except, all the protagonists in these stories are women, and that they all prominently feature the struggles of women in various period settings. There is an argument to be made for this book being an exploration of the violence and carelessness inherent in the patriarchy. It's more interesting still that Carroll's wife, Kate Craig, was one of the lead writers in The Fullbright Company's "Gone Home", a game about, in short, a young girl coming out of the closet in the 90's (and Carroll herself did the fonts and cover art for that game). While exhibiting a wholly different tone, Gone Home has a very similar atmosphere, like something monstrous is waiting around every corner.
If you buy this book, read it in a dimly lit room. Think about what it means to go through the woods, to pass through wilderness on your way from one spot of civilization to the next. What do your rules, your hopes, and your skills amount to when you're surrounded by trees, hills, and the rapidly setting sun? The dark is coming, but you can't stop. And maybe you make it through without event. Maybe this time there was no reason to be afraid. But you must pass through those woods again and again, and you must be very lucky to avoid the wolf every time. But the wolf... the wolf needs only enough luck to find you once.
Graphic Novels are so much fun to read, and Through the Woods was fantastic! I think this book will appeal to readers young and old alike. It was surprisingly spooky in some tales, which was an added delight. I was not expecting to get goosbumps while reading. I sat down and read the book and I as soon as I was done I went over to my cousins house to look through it with her son that loves all things ookey and spooky. He is in second grade and he loved the book! I couldn't even get him to give it back to me when I was reading.
Through the Woods features 5 stories. I am having a hard time even picking my favorite one- they were all wonderful. I think if I had to pick I would choose My Friend Janna. My little cousin's favorite was The Nesting Place. The pictures are vivid and the perfect accompaniment for the story. Through the woods makes me want to pick up more graphic novels. I have seen this listed as middle grade and young adult. I would think it leans more towards middle grade, but there are some pretty chilling parts so young readers beware! (but all of the young readers I have encountered couldn't get enough of the graphic stories.
*Disclaimer- I got a copy of this book for free in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated for my thoughts.
on July 19, 2014
"Through the Woods" is a fantastic collection of five chilling stories from the amazing Emily Carroll. The storytelling within these pages are top notch. Each panel is carefully crafted and is effective in setting the tone of each story, always leaving the reader curious as to what will happen next. The illustrations are beautiful and frightening.
Emily Carroll's stories are not for everyone. Consider visiting Emily Carroll's website to look at some of his stories to see if you would enjoy this book. I highly recommend, as do many of the reviewers here, reading "Face All Red," one of his most popular stories. You can find it at this website: http://emcarroll.com/comics/faceallred/01.html. That particular story is also in this book!
My only complaint about the book is that it's way too short! Each story is not that long at all -- you'll find yourself finishing the book in about 30-45 minutes (and maybe more, depending on if you love looking back at the illustrations) and wishing for more.
Definitely not for children, so don't buy it for your kid unless you want to give him/her nightmare fuel :)
on December 26, 2014
love this book and the artists amazingly creepy art style. i first found out about the author when i found a site with a few short story's she had drawn and written, one of them included in this book (his face all red). on the site she announced that this book was coming out and after looking at the previews i had to get it. and now ive finally got it, read it, and i loved it. =]
this book contains multiple short story's with amazing art.
our neighbors house
a ladys hands are cold
his face all red
my friend janna
the nesting place
Warning: for those family members who think this mite be good for bed time story's to young kids. its NOT. although the style seems slightly cartoonish or "simple" like in most kids books. this will definitely give young kids nightmare. adults and teens iam sure will be unaffected. just a simple warning to parents who don't look deeply into what the book is about. iam sure, or at least i hope, this warning wont really be needed. =]
on November 15, 2015
I’m not normally one to pick up a graphic novel – even though this is a compilation of five graphic short stories – but it was a welcome change from a usual steady diet of books.
Each story is set in a different time and has its own twist. ‘Our Neighbor’s House’ is quietly spooky and has a Blair Witch feel; where ‘A Lady’s Hands are Cold’ is a morbid cautionary tale. ‘His Face All Red’ is like body snatchers from deep in the woods and shudder-worthy; while ‘My Friend Janna’ is a freaky tale of a haunted medium and definitely my favourite story, both the drawings and storyline up the creep factor. And finally ‘The Nesting Place’ is the longest of the stories and the ssshhhkkk ssssshhhhkkkk of teeth still echo through my head.
The illustrations in ‘Through the Woods’ were scratchy and blotchy with only one or two colours – as equally ominous as the stories themselves. It was eerie and spooky and suitably gave me the shivers.
While not terrifying, ‘Through the Woods’ is morbid and creepy. Reminding me of Ronald Dahl – that same way the stories ended, or even ‘The Raven’ by Edgar Allen Poe. Several moments had the hair standing up on the back of my neck.
It is a quick read, but I urge you to take your time and enjoy the artwork. There is so much atmosphere that projects off the page to suck you into the narrative.
For my first graphic novel – highly recommended!
on July 15, 2014
Truly spectacular in every way. I have been a fan of Emily Carroll for quite awhile now and this book certainly does not disappoint. Not everyone will enjoy the stories and I highly recommend that you read a few of her earlier stories off her website before you purchase if you are unfamiliar with her.
With that say I can most certainly say that I enjoyed every story in the book, if I had one compliant it would be that it is a tad short. There are really only five stories and only four of them are new. However, all of them are good, and you will probably want to read through each of them multiple times.
on August 14, 2014
Emily Carroll is a storyteller, in the most primordial sense of the word. All of her illustrated gothic/horror stories feel like a conjuring of campfire tales told with a dash of folklore, urban legend and heady doses of fright. What makes this a particular accomplishment is that many people (like me) would have first discovered Carroll via her webcomics, scrolling through the panels of her stories, which are made no less terrifying for their original screen medium.
But now, for the first time, Carroll has gathered those webcomics in a book – ‘Through the Woods’ is her debut graphic novel collection of old and new stories.
I’ve been a fan of Emily Carroll’s webcomics since first stumbling across her website many years ago. I remember finding and falling in love with her work, even before I really got into the comic scene with the likes of ‘Saga’ and ‘Ms Marvel’. I don’t think I even really understood that Carroll was a comic artist back then – when I thought comics were all Batman, Superman and not much in-between. I think I just thought of her as a writer-illustrator who scared the beegeesus out of me with the story ‘His Face All Red’ (which is still my favourite).
There are five stories in this collection, plus an introduction and conclusion.
‘Our Neighbour’s House’ tells the tale of three sisters left to fend for themselves when their father does not return from his hunt, and what happens when a man in a wide-brimmed hat starts visiting them in the dead of night.
‘A Lady’s Hands are Cold’ has a ‘Bluebeard’ feel, when a young woman goes hunting through her new husband’s house for the source of a mysterious song.
‘His Face All Red’ is my personal favourite, from Carroll’s original webcomics series. It tells the tale of a man who has it on good authority that the person claiming to be his brother is an impersonator.
‘My Friend Janna’ is about two friends who get into the medium business; contacting spirits of people’s deceased loved ones.
‘The Nesting Place’ introduces us to Bell, who is staying with her brother and his strange fiancée while she’s on school break … but discovers something terrifying in the woods near the house.
Carroll is a great gothic storyteller, but more than that she’s a wonderful short-story writer. She knows how to pack a lot into just a few sentences, and has mastered the art of building to a climax – really hitting home with great one-liners in particular. All of her stories feel like they fit on either the folktale or urban legend spectrum – either seeming like something harking back to medieval times (like ‘A Lady’s Hands are Cold’ reminding of the French folktale ‘Bluebeard’) or they feel urban legend in that “a friend, of a friend of mine” sense (like ‘The Nesting Place’).
The other thing I love about Carroll is that her illustrations often look like old-school children’s book illustrations, and that seems to make them feel all the more sinister. Some of them have quite a Miroslav Sasek or J.P. Miller look – but often the bright colours and round-faced characters are at odds with the creepy text. Not surprisingly, Carroll has cited children’s books as a big inspiration for her – from Charles Keeping to Andrew Lang (“Essentially any book that gave me nightmares when I was a kid is a driving force behind what I make now.”)
Carroll has been published in anthologies and her webcomics have made her quite famous (in fact, Carroll is illustrating the graphic novel adaptation of Laurie Halse Anderson’s ‘Speak’, due out in 2016) but ‘Through the Woods’ is her graphic novel debut … but it definitely won’t be her last.
on February 14, 2016
I read most of these stories online on her website and I just loved them so much that I wanted to support her and have them in book form. These are amazing short horror stories that will leave your imagination running wild because there's just enough mystery to bewilder you. The art style is cartoony, very stylized but it fits, somehow makes the stories even more eerie. I recommend this book; if you're on the fence, jump right over and buy this book. Easily a favorite!