(This review was also published in Books and Lesser Evils)
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll is one of those rare gems in the literary world that crosses genres effortlessly and becomes an example of what makes those genre great. This is a graphic novel, but don’t kid yourself, it is not aimed at young readers. These are fairy tales but not like any ride you are going to find at Disney. This is young adult reading but doesn’t insult the reader by talking down to them. This is horror, not today’s watered down crap. This is horror. Creepy crap under your bed, things at your window, and tales of monsters that will haunt you as they haunt those who are telling. This is really good stuff!
“…That evening, the sun set bloodred in a white sky…”
In the first of five stories, three sisters are left alone when their father must leave, with instructions to go through the woods to the neighbor’s house is he does not return by the third day. Their father does not return but the girl’s are visited by someone else and one by one they disappear until only one is left.
“…I married my love in the springtime.
But by summer he locked me away.
He’d murdered me dead bu the autumn.
& by winter I was naught but decay…”
“…But the worst kind of monster was the Burrowing kind.
The sort that crawled into you and made a home there.
The sort you couldn’t name, the sort you couldn’t see.
The monster that ate you alive from the inside out…”
This collection of five disturbingly illustrated tales of the macabre, centered around the woods, will remind you of the type of scary stories that kept you up all night before the onslaught of dim-witted slasher tales came along to ruin the horror genre. There are monsters here. Bloody, beautiful creatures who will chill and seduce you.
Some of the marketing for this book says, “… These are fairy tales gone seriously wrong…”, but I disagree. These are fairy tales done right!
Through the Woods is a refreshing trip down the nightmares that use to haunt you and you only pretend they no longer do.