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Review of Through the Woods

carroll_through the woodsThrough the Woods
by Emily Carroll; illus. by the author
High School   McElderry   208 pp.
7/14   978-1-4424-6595-4   $21.99
Paper ed. 978-1-4424-6596-1   $14.99
e-book ed. 978-1-4424-6597-8   $10.92

Carroll crafts five unsettling tales in graphic-novel format inspired by common folkloric themes — from wolves in the woods to peculiar visitors to dark possessions. In “Our Neighbor’s House,” three sisters who find themselves alone in a cabin are taken, one by one, in the middle of the night by a smiling stranger. In “A Lady’s Hands Are Cold,” a young bride is tormented by the singing corpse of her new husband’s first wife, dismembered and disposed of within the walls of his manor. A man comes face to face with the sinister doppelganger of the brother he murdered in “His Face All Red,” while “My Friend Janna” and “The Nesting Place” focus on malevolent spirit possession. Carroll experiments with the uncanny, presenting characters and settings that are both familiar and alien. She posits that “the worst kind of monster was the burrowing kind. The sort that crawled into you and made a home there,” and that’s exactly what Carroll accomplishes, burrowing inside the reader’s mind and twisting what should be safe into something startlingly strange. For instance, one illustration of a little girl tucked into bed evokes Goodnight Moon, with its green, yellow, and red palette; yet the safety of that childhood bedtime story is stripped away when a wolf stalks up to the window. Swirling, chaotic, hand-lettered, and ink-smudged illustrations (at times reminiscent of Stephen Gammell) bring each grisly story to life.

From the November/December 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Shara Hardeson About Shara Hardeson

Shara Hardeson is a former editorial assistant at The Horn Book Guide.

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