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Through the Woods by Emily Carroll - Book Review

Through the Woods - Emily Carroll A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness, Jim Kay Cruel Beauty - Rosamund Hodge Complete 30 Days Of Night Trilogy - Steve Niles;Ben Templesmith

You will love Through the Woods if:

  • You’re in the mood for something scary and unexpected.
  • You like your fairy tales dark and unsettling, in the Grimm tradition.
  • You want illustrations to perfectly suit the tone and content of the story.

But if you want to sleep soundly tonight, beware. Through the Woods will lurk in the corner shadows and slink into your dreams.




Through the Woods is a graphic novel collection of fairy tales which works on many levels, and will appeal to many readers. As a scary story, it delivers. Each of the five stories taps into something instinctively frightening. Like the best scary tales, they're about the things glimpsed at the edge of your vision, the noises at night that you can't explain, and the secrets hidden behind the faces of those you think you know. There's enough classic archetype to trigger universal fears, but the specifics of each story are new, so you won't feel like you're just reliving a scare you've already read. You'll find something new to disturb you, as you reach to turn out the light and face the darkness.


From the fairy tale perspective, Through the Woods is a delight. It's not just a retelling, with the same familiar tropes and characters. There will be no comforting sense of familiarity even as the tale is twisted and shaped into a new form. Instead, this collection will remind you why you fell in love with fairy tales in the first place. You will never again be a first time Grimms reader, but there are still new stories being told. Read this under the covers, or go for a walk afterwards, alone, at night. If you dare...


And lastly, as a graphic novel: I loved the illustrations here, and the way the text wove itself onto the page. At first glance, the art seemed grim and creepy but a little juvenile. Then once I got into the story, I realized how perfectly suited the art is to the text, and all my reservations vanished. For illustrated horror or just for a graphic novel where art and text are perfectly matched, I highly recommend Through the Woods.


This would also be a great pic for junior high kids who like a scary story. Under the spoiler tag, you will find more content details so you can decide appropriateness for yourself.

There is nothing inappropriate in terms of language or sexuality. Story elements include murder and death. One story includes the discovery of body parts, and the artwork does include smeared blood and other evidence of violence. But for those looking for a horror story, the artwork adds a lot to the story, and the horror is more atmospheric and creepy than violent. Would be appropriate for most junior high readers, say 7th or 8th grade or higher.

(show spoiler)


You might also like:

  • A Monster Calls - a sometimes scary fantasy for young adults which is so much more than it seems.
  • Cruel Beauty - a dark fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, with deal-making demons and a sprinkle of Greek mythology.
  • 30 Days of Night - a horror graphic novel with vampires that are still scary and artwork that's atmospheric and creepy.



Kimberly Cole likes to take walks at night, but makes sure to watch out for wolves. She's a fifteen year library and bookstore veteran. Find more reviews on Goodreads and follow to keep up with current reads.

Upcoming Releases - January's Come Hither Books

Snowblind - Christopher Golden On Such a Full Sea - Chang-rae Lee Shovel Ready - Adam Sternbergh The Impossible Knife of Memory - Laurie Halse Anderson

These are the upcoming releases that gave me that come hither look this week.


Snowblind by Christopher Golden

Come Hither Rating: Come Hither Rating: HIGH

release date: January 21

Genre: Suspense + Fantasy + Horror


Why it sounds sexy: Oddly, it's the snowstorm that does it for me. I have a love of extreme environmental or weather settings, and a bleak wintery landscape has a lot of associative subtexts for me. I enjoy horror when it's understated and subtle, not when it's gory or over the top, and the reviews out there so far suggest Snowblind will be right up my alley. Snowblind has characters haunted by loss, a chilling setting and a bit of mystery and suspense. Sounds fantastic.


On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee

Come Hither Rating: Come Hither Rating: MEDIUM

release date: January 7

Genre: cerebral SciFi


Why it sounds sexy: Scifi is at its strongest when it makes me think about the world I live in differently, and this book promises to do just that. Chang-Rae Lee's dystopian society has a strictly divided class system, and seems likely to provoke all sorts of interesting thoughts on race, class and cultural identity.


Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh 

Come Hither Rating: Come Hither Rating: LOW

release date: January 14

Genre: SciFi + Noir


Why it sounds sexy: Shovel Ready is hyped as a mix of scifi, thriller and noir, and that's enough to catch my eye. The reviews mention an odd narrative and dialogue style, so it should be either a love at first read or fast discard book for me. The noir nods make me want to give it a chance, though it may prove too dystopi-yawn. We shall see...


The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Come Hither Rating: Come Hither Rating: LOW

release date: January 7

Genre: YA realistic fiction


Why it sounds sexy: Anderson writes powerful stories that take on heady issues, like Speak. I don't read realistic fiction that often, but hers are usually worth making an exception for. This one takes on the consequences of life after war, as Hayley and her dad Andy try to deal with his traumatic memories of Iraq.