“Through the Woods” freaked me out. Illustrated and written by Emily Carroll, a webcomic artist on the rise, this graphic novel is an anthology of five of Carroll’s comics. These five self-contained short stories tell the stories of three sisters trapped in a cabin, a young bride married to a man with a dark secret, a modern take on “Little Red Riding Hood” and more.
The artistic style in this graphic novel was hauntingly gorgeous. Carroll’s style is inky and delicate, like hand-drawn Grimm’s fairy tales. It was made up mainly of primary colors, black and white, making it very simplistic yet striking contrast in how detailed these illustrations are. These are horror stories, mind you. They are not necessarily gory or gruesome, but they are eerie and unsettling. Even then, the entire anthology of Carroll’s selected works are gorgeous.
As said before, these are very much like Grimm’s fairy tales. Carroll tells each story in under 20 pages in a tight, quick-paced manner. These stories have ambiguous, chilling resolutions, often with much of the character’s fates left open to interpretation. This could turn some readers off, but it really worked for me. Classic fairy tales were told in that same manner, with only a loose explanation behind the magically strange occurrences. If you need a concrete ending completely grounded in reality, Carroll’s stories might not be for you. However, if you do pick it up, you are going to care about these characters.
The sense of suspense is nearly immediate because of that very fact. Carroll writes her characters in a way that inspires concern as they are confronted by dark, spine-tingling monsters and secrets of the woods. The most chilling line that struck me was, “It came from the woods. Most strange things do.” Because these stories are mostly told in earlier time periods, so characters braving their horrific fates in these rural settings is isolating, suspenseful and just plain creepy.
“Through the Woods” is a grade-A graphic novel. Carroll’s manner of storytelling is captivating and intense and her artistic style is beautiful enough to tack on your bedroom wall. These short stories blend together in a cohesive manner and leave you with the strong sense to nail all your doors shut. It’s a perfect read to kick off the spooky festivities leading up to Halloween.
Verdict: 5/5 stars