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Through the Woods

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'It came from the woods. Most strange things do.'

Five mysterious, spine-tingling stories follow journeys into (and out of?) the eerie abyss.

These chilling tales spring from the macabre imagination of acclaimed and award-winning comic creator Emily Carroll.

Come take a walk in the woods and see what awaits you there...

208 pages, Hardcover

First published July 1, 2014

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About the author

Emily Carroll

54 books1,722 followers
Emily Carroll was born in June of 1983. She grew up in London (Ontario). She started making comics in 2010, and her horror webcomic His Face All Red went viral around Halloween of 2010. Since then, Carroll has published several books, created comics for various comics anthologies, and provided illustrations for other works. Carroll has won several awards, including an Ignatz and two Eisners.

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5 stars
28,065 (36%)
4 stars
26,268 (34%)
3 stars
15,521 (20%)
2 stars
4,409 (5%)
1 star
2,862 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 9,870 reviews
Profile Image for Patrick.
Author 88 books231k followers
December 8, 2014
This book freaked my shit out.

Yeah. How's that for a blurb?

"This freaked my shit out."
- Patrick Rothfuss

The truth is, this book is amazing. I've read a lot of great comics this last year, and out of all of them, this is the one that had the most profound emotional effect on me.

It's not gory, or graphic. It's... unsettling. It's creepy. It's like the darkest of the old-school faerie tales.

I read it at night before I was going to go to bed. And when I was done, I was too unnerved to go to sleep. I had to read something else to settle myself down first.

Seriously. I'm 40 years old. And still this thing got to me.

Highly *highly* recommended.
Profile Image for karen.
3,978 reviews170k followers
July 11, 2018
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if i were judging this book solely on its artwork, it would be an easy five stars. there are five main stories, plus an introduction and a conclusion, each with their own style of illustration. it's not that i love them all equally, but i do generally appreciate range and variety :

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in a way, it kind of reminded me of fear(s) of the dark, a film in which several different illustrators bring their own brand of creepy to life through unique animation stylings:

this book is obviously more limited in its range because it is all coming from a single imagination, but as far as artwork goes, i dig it

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however, the stories were mostly just okay.

they are definitely not scary, or weren't to me anyway, and they fall more on the side of "atmospheric" or "ominous" than "you will never sleep again."

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which, considering this is meant as a YA book is probably for the best, but i'm still looking for my big scare, and i fear it will never come.

which is totally the wrong kind of fear.

an introduction

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this is just a little tease, not so much a story as a setting of the mood for what is to come.

our neighbor's house

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this one feels very familiar. there's an olde timey new england vibe to it, and while i don't think it's actually based on anything, it feels like a mashup of a bunch of different stories, like something that would be read aloud in a spoooooky voice during a haunted hayride right before costumed people come running out of the woods all clawing and moaning to the delighted shrieks of girl scouts. makes me want to drink warm cider.

a lady's hands are cold

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this had probably my favorite artwork of the bunch

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and i enjoyed the way it exploded offa the page

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and it's also in the running for top story (along with our neighbor's house). this one reads more like a fairy tale than the others; a little hint of bluebeard but with fewer wives, more property damage, and much less gratitude.

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his face all red

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i'm honestly not sure what happened in this one. maybe i'm missing some subtlety, but near as i can figure, this is the story arc:

-spooky tease/declaration
-story story story
-repercussions of action
-spooky happenings
-confirmation that previous action! occurred
-the end

i don't understand this at all. there's an expectation of some kind of twist or reveal, but instead the ending is like someone going through the house on their way to bed: yup, door's locked, stove's off, cat has water, everything is where i thought it was...

what am i missing?

my friend janna

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this has the bones of a very traditional ghost story, but there's just too much story around what could have been a genuinely spooky read if it didn't meander so much. i think horror works best when it is streamlined, when there's ambiguity left over for the reader to fill in with their own worst imaginings and also when the journey is straight and fast and decisive like a gunshot or a thunderclap. this one is so frontloaded with unfocused exposition at the beginning that you get lulled into what is ultimately a very gentle horror. i think the illustrations work particularly well in conjunction with this story, but i also think it would have been much more effective if it were whittled down a bit.

the nesting place

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another one - no idea, really, what's going on here. i mean, i understand the basic plot, but it's the details that leave me head-scratching. the prologue seems to suggest that the ... situation is location-specific, but that's clearly not the case, nor is it familial, although it tangentially affects a family over generations, and i know what i JUST SAID about ambiguity being good for horror, but how does that ending work? is it both? or migrated? and aren't they going to the very same city that was effective as a threat and avoided on the previous page? i don't understaaaaaand!

in conclusion

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this is another little shorty - the urban legend rim shot to end end the collection on a pop. it's a little red riding hood offshoot whose zinger is pretty much the same shape as this joke that i am spoiler tagging for people who don't think pedophile jokes are ever funny:

different punch line, but the same basic "gotcha!" energy.

i'm giving it a four because i did like the artwork, but the stories themselves are pretty patchy, so i'm being a bit generous here.

dear books - please be scarier for me!

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,573 reviews5,900 followers
September 15, 2015
A set of five short little horror stories.
Everyone loves this book.
Everyone says don't read these at dark.
I thought I would flip out over this book.
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I didn't.
I think I may not be the target audience for something like this.
I'm not really a fan of short stories. At least the ones that have no definite endings.
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It does have some awesome artwork though. I think if I had read these when I was a teenager I went have went bonkers over them. But my old jaded ass just didn't care for it now because it takes more than spaghetti head to scare me now.
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Reviewer Spotlight: Where I spotlight one of my friends that deserve attention and who doesn't attention seek with the review bumps.
My friend Cameron is a reviewer that does the video reviews on youtube. I have no clue why he is not at the top of that game because he is one of the best at it that I've seen.
Profile Image for Ariel.
301 reviews64.2k followers
July 26, 2014
This is one of the CREEPIEST most BEAUTIFUL most MYSTICAL most TERRIFYING things I have EVER READ.

That's really all I can say. Go read this. It's utterly enchanting.

The artwork is magnificent. MAGNIFICENT. Every page was a marvel. And the stories are so entertaining and keep you so intrigued, and are so intense. And it's scary. Oh my god it's terrifying. One of the creepiest books I've ever read, but in a good way.

My favourite story was "Our Neighbours House" but they were ALL GOOD.

Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
October 8, 2022
11/11/18: I reread this book because I reviewed and shared some of Emily Carroll's free short stories here for Halloween, and because I read Speak: The Graphic Novel, which she illustrated for Laurie Halse Anderson. Now, more than two years after I initially read it, I am feeling Carroll's groove. I wasn't as appreciative as I am now. I think she is one of the truly talented and smart and entertaining horror illustrators out there.

1/29/15 (edited a bit for clarity): This did creep me out. The stories are good and unsettling. I am rereading Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which is better on many levels, but this is also very good. Focused on images, of course. Initially I thought the kind of wild and splashy art actually undermined the creep-factor in places, it calls attention to itself a little too much, at times? I wasn't sure of her audience, really--is it kids? ya? adults? But when some sort of spaghetti-like material emerges from the dead but animated woman in one of the last stories, I am hooked. I am the audience.

I initially got this from the library, because I have way too many books (points to a life of book hoarding), but I have done the rare thing, for me, now, I bought it and am increasingly digging this woman's approach to horror. I think a lot of kids (and adults) will like it, too. I know we all are going to see a lot more of Emily Carroll's work in the future.
Profile Image for Katie Colson.
649 reviews5,795 followers
August 26, 2022
Vlog/Review: https://youtu.be/p2CBjnqf6Gs

This is what I keep wanting out of Junji Ito.

It's like a fairytale mange written by Edgar Allen Poe.

Read this quote and tell me you don't want to read this book...

"Oh, but you must travel through those woods again and again" said a shadow at the window "and you must be lucky to avoid the wolf every time...But the wolf... the wolf only needs enough luck to find you once.”
Profile Image for Maureen.
507 reviews4,201 followers
July 20, 2015
Definitely one of the creepiest books I've ever read - SHOULD NOT HAVE READ IT AT NIGHT.
The art was beautiful and the stories were really great. Honestly, some of them, while being creepy, could be a metaphor for mental illness/depression (in a twisted way, yes, but still metaphors) which I found really interesting. Overall a really compelling read with a lot of different elements - most of them being TERRIFYING.
Profile Image for Alice Oseman.
Author 66 books69.9k followers
October 16, 2019
A very creepy collection of short horror comics. Perfect for the Halloween season!
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,133 reviews8,134 followers
November 1, 2015
That wasn't nearly as scary as I was expecting. The art is beautiful though. I love the color palettes she chose for each story; they work very well together. They read like spooky folk tales, and while I wasn't particularly scared by them, they are rather creepy. I felt like a few of the stories ended too abruptly though. I would love for the author to make a longer, single scary story and really expand on what she has here. There wasn't much dialogue either so it goes by really quickly and relies on the images to deliver the fright. It was fun to read, but not particularly memorable to me.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,000 reviews35.9k followers
April 8, 2017
I haven't bought books to 'write off'.....but I actually could. In the guest room of of our Airbnb.... I have a book shelf. I like to leave books for our guests to enjoy while they stay with us. We don't offer a TV in the room. We've been getting a lot of return guests ---people who come to town for business-and enjoy staying in our little retreat oasis- private quiet - their own warm pool and sauna.

I've been getting feedback on the books I leave out - so I keep rotating them for repeat 'friends'. I bought this graphic book because it can be read in one sitting --it's 'for' adults -'not' children .....and the graphics themselves are sooooo exceptional that even if not all 5 stories are phenomenal.... this book is enjoyable to read and LOOK AT!!!!

I liked the first story very much -- called "Our Neighbor's House". It was definitely creepy, not super scary....a little puzzling. I wasn't sure it was believable at all.... but I liked it a lot and the illustrations heightened the story - a perfect match.

I liked the other 4 stories - but I liked the illustrations even more. I think there is something in this book for everybody. And if you get out of a hot tub - and are lazy tired -- and simply want to look through a book that captures your attention which is 'gorgeous' to look at and touch..... this book does the trick.

Nice guest book ---
Taking more suggestions for a few 'guest books' .....I'm all ears!!!

Graphic stories with warmth - lovely photos -- I've already got some lovely 'art' books - of women's bodies - aging women - - great colorful yoga books - and so on... looking for new ideas...

Looking for more fun reading for guests!!!
Note: As the owner of the house - I get to read them too... what else is great????
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
838 reviews3,753 followers
February 15, 2021

If there’s such thing as falling in love at first sight with graphics, I think I just experienced it.

No, really. How am I supposed to rate this beautiful set of short stories? I would give it 5 stars solely for the art. The temptation is real, trust me. As it is, I’m going to do some magic average trick and call it a day. Here we go.

No surprise here, of course the art deserves all the stars! If Emily Carroll uses different techniques in each short story, I can safely say that I loved every one of them.

From the colors and brushes to the fonts used to relate her stories, she shows so much talent that I’m let in awe. I want more. I am definitely a fangirl now. This is such a weird feeling for me O_o.

See, none of these stories really gave me goosebumps, yet I can’t deny that my heart pounding increased as I was getting closer to each story end… In that aspect, this is a real success. Who needs to be scared to death anyway? Certainly not me. Unsettled, though…

Concerning my involvement and interest in the plots, I have to admit that it was rather uneven. If two of the short stories were definitive 5 stars – the neighbor hat and the nesting place – others let me perplexed, especially because every one of them ended on a cliffhanger, which wasn’t always well-handled in my opinion. While it made me think and created a great shock factor, I was lost sometimes. I mean, perhaps I’m stupid (it is possible) but I didn’t understand everything, to be honest. I must reread it, but really, the lady with cold hands? HUH? Someone explains this ending to me?

Yet I was enthralled from the very first page, which is pretty rare when it comes to graphic novels. Captivating indeed.


For more of my reviews, please visit:
Profile Image for Katie.
267 reviews3,839 followers
February 7, 2017
I want to panel my bedroom with the pages from this book - although that might disturb visitors.

I adored the imagery and writing as a whole, but for over half of the stories, I felt the endings fell a bit flat.
Profile Image for Mischenko.
1,014 reviews97 followers
May 24, 2020
This is a creepy collection of five graphic short stories by Emily Carroll. I think my favorite was “A Lady’s Hands are Cold” out of the five, but all were quite good and equally disturbing. I plan to revisit this hauntingly gorgeous collection again closer to Halloween.

These are like dark fairy tales. If I were to rate this for the illustrations alone, I’d give it five stars. Something I didn’t like was that a few of the endings were abrupt which leaves you drawing your own conclusions.

Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,460 reviews9,611 followers
January 12, 2016
MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List



I'm going to do each little story so here we go......


One day a father of three girls says he's going out hunting, he told the girls that if he didn't come back in three days to go to the neighbor's house. I'm thinking they should have done what he said. Now I'm not sure if the same thing would have happened, but still...


Since they decided to stay there, the next day one of the sisters said a man came to the door the night before, and the next day....the sister... is gone..

This is one of my favorite stories and I just really wish we could have found out what was exactly inside that house at the end!


This girl's father marries her off to this man and she moves into his manor. Well, she gets waken up every night hearing some singing.


She decides to search the house while her husband is away and finds a creepy discovery. When her husband gets home she gets the hell out of dodge and leaves behind.....


This one is about a brother who kills his brother or does he, what happened?


They were just going into the woods to kill a monster, but what happened and who is the monster really!


This girl Janna used to speak to ghosts but it wasn't for real, she was scamming people. But her friend really did see ghosts.


Now her friend Janna is haunted and where did she go.....


This one is thoroughly creepy. Bell's mother tells her all these scary stories when she was young and when her mom passes away she has to go and live with her brother and fiancee, but something just isn't right.....


Her mother once told her the worst kind of monster was a burrowing monster.... yeah I would agree this is a really creepy monster I would not want to meet!


This is the story of a girl who lived at the edge of a forest and I'm guessing that is her father's house because he tells her to be careful of the woods on the way to her moms house because of the wolves.


She thinks she made it to her moms house and is safe in bed... or is she....

I loved all of these little stories and I'm going to be buying this one for sure! It's just the right amount of creep and I want some more books from this author like this, where are they? Are there any? Tell me!

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
915 reviews13.9k followers
July 16, 2017
This is my favorite art out of any graphic novel i've ever read! Although sometimes I was confused during this, I loved how I was so creeped out that I was nervous to turn the page. Honestly I would highly recommend this graphic novel because it's so neat. I thought I wouldn't like it because it's individual short stories, but I was wrong!
January 9, 2019
This one is as darkly beautiful as it is beautifully dark. What more can a nefarious tyrant with a penchant for all things aesthetic ask for, I wonder? Not much, methinks. Not bloody shrimping much.

The graphics and colors are scrumptiously delicious and deliciously scrumptious.

Damn, the whole thing is so magnificently done even the fonts are yummy as shrimp. (Which is slightly outrageous, if you ask me.)

Then there's the Sometimes Creepy Something Spooky Sometimes Serie Stuff (SCS⁵™).

There are hatchet-wielding damsels in distress lovely yellow dresses.

And friendly flappers with, errr, problematic dental hygiene.

Then there are Somewhat Shook Up Maidens (SSUM™) who should stay at home and play whist or sew or embroider or some other fascinating occupation of the sort (like any proper, self-respecting, young Regency lady) instead of pretending she can speak to the dead and stuff.


(“Serves the silly girl right,” is reported to have said Mrs Bennett when she heard of poor Janna's demise.)

Things go bump sshkhhcsshkks in the night.

Madame Beauchamp? I wouldn’t bet on it, darling child.

Some puny humans have trouble sleeping. (I’d read Historical Romance, if I were them. Best cure for insomnia, if you ask me.) Either because they did slightly horrible stuff and deserve NOT to succumb to sweet slumber for the rest of the entirety of their entire life…

…Or because they are revoltingly innocent little children with super cool, affectionate and not-so-imaginary friends who love to stay up and chat with them at night.

My my, Big Bad, what beautifully, healthy teeth you have! Mind having a word with Ms Flapper of the Dubious Dental Hygiene up there? Pretty sure she’d love to have your dentist’s number and stuff.

All in all, I think you could say that all the lovely stories in this collection are heart-warming tales of affection, kindness, good humor, warmth, conviviality and happiness. Ergo, the perfect Christmas gift. QED and stuff.
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,478 reviews19.2k followers
May 18, 2018
Just finished this and I'm honestly so disappointed. The art was gorgeous but I didn't like ANY of the stories. I feel like they ended right when I started enjoying them. Ugh. Womp x10000
Profile Image for Tina Haigler.
293 reviews99 followers
November 30, 2019
This book is an anthology of horror stories, told in graphic novel form. Horror is my favorite genre, and my favorite medium for it is the graphic novel, so I ended up reading this in one sitting. All the stories found herein had an eerily creepy feel to them, and the artwork matched the tone of it perfectly. The only reason I chose four instead of five stars is because, within the horror world, vague endings are just not my thing. Unhappy endings are perfectly fine, but I'm not a fan of ambiguous ones. So I do highly recommend this to anyone who loves horror, graphic novels, short stories, unconventional endings, or monster tales. Enjoy!
Profile Image for Sam Quixote.
4,481 reviews12.8k followers
June 19, 2015
I’m looking through a window at some trees in the early evening, the trees becoming darker and darker, and I feel something despite myself - the DNA starts moving, remembering a time when the darkness of the trees meant danger. Emily Carroll plays off of those primal fears in the folkish horror stories of Through the Woods, which also warns “It came from the woods. Most strange things do.”

The first story, Our Neighbor’s House, loosely riffs on Red Riding Hood as a trio of sisters are left by their father in their house in the middle of the snow-laden woods. If he doesn’t return in three days, they’re to grab some food and head to their neighbor. He doesn’t return. And a terrifying figure who wears a wide brimmed hat and never stops smiling is waiting outside for the girls…

It’s a helluva start to the book which sets a standard that the other stories unfortunately don’t match with each one becoming slightly less inspired than the last. They’re all good stories but none measure up to the chilling brilliance of Our Neighbor’s House.

Carroll riffs on the classic fairy tale, Bluebeard, in A Lady’s Hands are Cold, as the new bride of a nobleman hears the haunting cries of a woman throughout the castle at night. The horror is built up really well to a point that feels a bit like the ending of The Shining.

His Face All Red begins a theme that’ll last for the next three tales, namely the idea of someone - or something - possessing your body, wearing it like a meat puppet and undergoing a complete personality change (maybe she’s so fearful of this because someone in Carroll’s family had Alzheimer’s?). Two brothers, one a hero, one forgotten, go into the woods to kill the monster terrorising the village - not realising the monsters were never on the outside.

My Friend Janna is about two girls who decide to exploit the superstitions of others by pretending to speak to the dead. The Nesting Place is about a girl who goes to her brother’s house in the country and discovers his wife has a terrible secret. It’s MR James crossed with HP Lovecraft!

Comics are a unique medium where words and pictures play off each other to tell a story; the great ones have a perfect balance between the two. If I have one criticism of Carroll’s comics - and it really is just one - it’s that the stories feel underwritten with Carroll leaning a bit too much on the imagery to tell the story. Ironically, it ends up making some of the characters feel like the puppets they fear they’ll become rather than rounded, believable characters.

Saying that the art is too much of a towering presence in comparison to the writing is a minor critique though that won’t bother many people. That’s because the art is so gorgeous! The final story I haven’t mentioned, In Conclusion, is straight up Red Riding Hood and has some stunning splash pages that look like concept art for the movie Avatar’s alien planet Pandora - using purple to colour trees and rocks at night? What a choice and it really pays off!

The blues and yellows of A Lady’s Hands are Cold are made all the more powerful for not being colours you’d associate with a horror story, and the spare use of red against the black and white of Our Neighbor’s House is brilliant. The lines are very confident and the layouts are very imaginative, alternating between panels of varying sizes to free-flowing imagery.

The more successful stories - Our Neighbor’s House and His Face All Red - are effective because the horror is less explicit/understandable. It’s almost more threatening to the reader that if you don’t know what the danger is by story’s end, it could happen to you. The less scary stories are conversely the ones that show you the horror straight up which I always find unsatisfying, and that’s the case here.

Through the Woods is an excellent collection of fantastical horror stories with a strong fairy-tale theme, almost like a comics adaptation of some of Angela Carter’s stories from The Bloody Chamber. Delightfully creepy reading guaranteed - read them at night in a room with no curtains where the tree branches can cast some interesting shadows in the moonlight… mwahahahaha!
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,962 followers
February 9, 2017
Horror stories done stark and right, minimalist and tear-your-face-off creepy.

Seriously. I think I only like one of the five stories, but I loved the other four. Crazy solid scares, and now I've got a good book to read to my daughter once she finally stops needing to sleep with the light on.

After all, we can't have our children growing up unafraid, now can we?

(Puts on a wide brimmed hat and grins in such a way that all of his teeth gleam like piano keys.)


But my favorite story of all was the one that was told to the monster. How hella cool was that? Totally awesome. :)

This is by far the most solid all-around tale(s) of horror I've ever read in a comic. Others might have a lot more creativity, strange plots, more odd characters, but this one excels in doing one thing extremely right:

Scaring you.

Bravo. :)
Profile Image for Sarah Churchill.
470 reviews1,173 followers
August 27, 2015
I'd heard this graphic novel was creepy, but I don't think I'd realised just how creepy. I probably should have guessed when it said it was perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman.

A collection of horror stories that all feature that epitome of childhood creepiness - the woods. The artwork style, simplistic and almost child-like adds to the tension, and Emily Carroll is not afraid of some blood and gore in her illustrations.

This is a definite recommendation for fans of darker graphic novels, horror and especially for Halloween-time reads.
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