The short: 4/5 ✦. A chilling graphic novel with five beautifully illustrated stories.
My sister is the one who recommended this to me, coming into my office after reading it herself to hand it to me. “You should read this,” she said. “The art is amazing, and it’s scary – in a good way.”
Now, I’m not a “scary” genre type of person; I don’t like horror movies or books, especially of the supernatural variety. Stephen King and Neil Gaiman are admittedly exceptions, but their books are more suspenseful or thriller than “scary” (but I refuse to read It!)
Also, “scary” could mean anything: will it give me nightmares or delightful goosebumps? should I not dare to read this at night? But my sister knows me and my tastes, and if she thought I’d like it, I knew probably would. And it would be a quick read.
So when I had a free hour one day, I plopped down on the couch and opened up Through the Woods. And my sister was right: it is scary. It is scary in an unsettling way, where you think of yourself in the character’s shoes and wonder, What would I do? How scared would I be? Would I end up like them?
It’s not nightmarish, though the art is definitely creepy and twisted and yes, amazing. It’s a graphic novel, so the illustrations are really everything. That’s not to say the words are bland, however. The stories themselves are written in a lyrical poetic way (in fact, I think at least one rhymes throughout). If you’ve read any kind of fairy tale, especially of the Grimm variety, then you have an idea of how these stories are written. There’s no set time period, though most seem to take place long ago and far away, while a few apparently are relatively recent.
No spoilers from me about each individual story, but I will say this: There are no happy endings.
(P.S. You can read one of the stories in its entirety HERE!)
Header image: Through the Woods by Emily Carroll, published July 15th 2014 by Margaret K. McElderry Books.