Selah Janel Guest Review: Through the Woods

In the third installment of her guest series, Selah Janel is taking us into the realm of Through the Woods. As usual, I am including affiliate links to Amazon. There is no extra charge for purchasing through the links but I may receive a small commission for the referral. Again, all proceeds go to operation of the blog!

Selah’s Thoughts on Through the Woods

So, what about those who maybe don’t want something superhero-y or don’t feel like a memoir? What about those (whatever your age) who are looking for something…creepy? Oh, have I got a title for you.

Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods is a collection of five stories that will leave you breathless no matter what your age or gender. Less of a traditional comic structure and more of an illustrated book, this still shows exactly what you can accomplish in the genre. Out of the five stories, one is reprinted from a popular webcomic (which is, of course, the one I can’t remember off the top of my head). I read this a little over two years ago for the first time and I STILL have images and phrases that haunt my mind at the weirdest times. Each start off fairly innocently and then drop you down the first hill of the roller coaster at different times and speeds.

“Our Neighbor’s House” is probably my favorite because it does a great job of ramping up the tension ever-tighter, only to punch you in the stomach at the end. “A Lady’s Hands are Cold” reminds me of a lot of dark folk stories, which is both creepy and delightfully nostalgic for me (yeah, I had a weird upbringing). “My Friend Janna” and “The Nesting Place” both have more depth in the plot but are no less freaky. If anything, the payoff is fantastic because of the detail and twists within them. The end tale (I’m guessing it’s “His Face all Red” and not a separate end cap) is wonderful at driving home the message of the whole book.

With all of these, you know the bottom is going to drop out (that’s why you’re here, after all), but the author delivers in different ways and at different speeds, so sometimes you can’t help but hope that it’s going to work out in favor in a certain way…and then things change again and you’re right back at the edge of your seat.

These are less overtly terrifying than the classic Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark because they aren’t necessarily as specific, but it’s the same sort of vibe. Maybe less gather round the campfire and more curl up on the sofa under a blanket and be thankful you’re safe and sound and not having to make your own way through the woods. The art is beautiful and coupled with the stories presents a lovely sort of nihilism. It shows just enough, and where the words leave off your imagination, it recaptures it, and vice versa. 5/5

Best for: I’m going to say middle school on up, but I will say that if anyone is freaked out by horror/creepy stuff, they may want to skip it. It’s not gory or graphic by any means, but it is creepy and might be disturbing for younger readers.

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Selah Janel

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