Note: A friend of mine expressed her interest in writing a review for my blog, and who am I to say no? The more people I can have here sharing what they love to read is fantastic. Anyway, I’ll pass the baton on to her review of Through The Woods! Enjoy.
Twisting branches become grasping fingers, lights through the trees become glowing eyes and a simple journey into the woods will turn into so much worse. So be careful when you go through the woods.
Throughout Gothic literature, the image of the woods at night is a recurring theme. Not only do the woods offer nothing but cold isolation, they are also remind us that something unknown and hungry lurks just beyond the dense undergrowth. No one captures this gothic landscape quite like Emily Carrol in her graphic novel Through the Woods a collection of short stories.
Through the Woods begins with the classic reminder of our childhood fear of the monster under the bed. Where we would hid under the duvet, the covers being the only thing protecting us from a clawed hand reaching up and dragging us into the darkness. Carrol’s work recreates this through her simple prose married with the hauntingly beautiful imagery. She does by utilising a simple palette of vivid but simple colours to portray the emotion and feel of the page. This is best shown in A Lady’s Hands are Cold where Carrol uses a dark blue to emphasis the cold emptiness and contrasts it with a startling red for danger and of course, blood.
Although most of her short stories are original such as the haunting Our Neighbour’s House and The Nesting Place, Carrol takes on classic tales such as Little Red Riding Hood and the grisly tale of Bluebeard and reworks them in such a way that they feel as you’re hearing them for the first time. This is an incredible feat, more so for anyone who is an avid reader of anything gothic and folklore related.
Carrol is able to breathe new life into these classic tales as she approaches them from a different angle. The normal way in which classic fairy tales are retold is normally through the emphasis of moral or the implied sexuality of the original tales, much like the approach of Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber and other stories. But Carrol doesn’t follow this traditional approach to retelling. She chooses to look outside the dark side of human nature and into the realm of the unknown, where the real monsters wait. The wolf is no longer the symbol of unbridled sexuality, he’s simply a staving animal. The older husband with a blue beard is not trying to kill his young bride but something else is.
Through the Woods captures the isolation of living in a remote area surrounded by the unforgiving wilderness. It gives us the startling reminder that we don’t know what is lurking out there, waiting to get us if we’re unlucky…