Emily Carroll (Faber) 2014, 208pp, RRP $29.99
Canadian graphic artists Carroll’s volume is a gorgeous, glossy collection of deliciously eerie tales inspired by classic Grimm fairy tales and the Gothic creeper, although some, like The Nesting Place, have more of a Stephen King or even Twilight Zone mood of fatalistic unease.
After an introduction that details how, after reading at night as a child under a lamp, she would be afraid to turn the light off in case something waiting in the dark grabbed her, we leap into Our Neighbor’s House, where riffs are borrowed from Little Red Riding Hood and other much loved – and feared – sources. A Lady’s Hands Are Cold owes something to Weird Tales and other EC Comics, although it’s fresh and freaky enough to leave you shivering, while His Face All Red is all about döppelgangers or revenants (it’s not entirely clear, and yet it doesn’t have to be), and My Friend Janna is an unsettling drawing-room piece about fake séances that might make you think twice about mocking the spirit realms.
And the final brief offering that ties it all together, the simple and strikingly realised In Conclusion, reminds us again of the monsters that lie just beyond the door, the window or the lamplight, and wait for the right moment to pounce.
Through The Woods is available from Allen & Unwin. Click here to purchase your copy.