The Compulsive Reader: Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Monday, November 3, 2014

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Let me introduce you to my new favorite graphic novel...

“It came from the woods. Most strange things do.”

Three sisters are stranded in a house in the middle of winter. A bride hears the ghostly song of her new husband’s first wife. Two brothers find themselves irrevocably changed after one night in the woods. A girl thinks she knows everything about her best friend and her ability to talk to the dead. A sister discovers the terrifying truth about her brother’s fiancée.

What I love so much about this collection is how nicely, cleverly feminist these stories are. With the exception of one story, the protagonists are all female, and they’re not just naïve girls or witches. They’re heroes, anti-heroes, friends, and antagonists. Each of these original stories is very different in tone, voice, and time period, but Carroll’s darkly whimsical art and portrayal of the woods unifies them. She favors unexpected twists, usually delivered in the final frame in the form of one striking word or image. These twists and surprises encourage multiple re-readings and the violence and ambiguity of each store contribute to the sense that these stories are as old as anything the Grimm brothers ever recorded. Through the Woods is a book you most definitely want to own.

I love, love the art. I love how Carroll inserts herself into the collection with the chilling prologue and epilogue, and the image of the woman in the blue cloak. If I could, I would frame and hang the spreads of this book on my walls.

Purchased from indie Schuler Books & Music, whereupon finding it on the shelf I hugged it and did not let it go.

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