Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Through The Woods stories by Emily Carroll

I was extremely lucky to get an advanced copy of this book I have been eyeing. When it landed on my desk in my office I sort of flipped out and did a happy dance, then hugged the packaging. Canadian born and raised author Emily Carroll has had her work appear in many anthologies published through Vertigo, Darkhorse and FirstSecond. Her first book Through the Woods debuts this July and contains several fairy tale inspired short stories with a modern spin.

Emily Carroll weaves a disturbing web that will make the hair on your arms stand. The imagery is both haunting and vibrant while she narrates each story in unconventional text which increases your unease. You will shiver although there is no wind, and you will wonder what is under your bed although you know better. We have all been warned about the dangers of wandering too far from home. As a child, I lived in a house surrounded by woods. Even more-so at my grandmothers house. Although we were allowed to explore, we were always and regularly warned against going off too far alone. It was amazing how little fear I had of anything in the wild. Fairy tales warning about the dangers of the woods in particular always played at the back of my mind when I went to start a game with my sisters in forest.

Carroll's stories are inspired by old cautionary tales based on the dangers of curiosity. Each story holds a unique twist on the typical stories invented to warn young women against the dangers of men and the dangers of wandering from home. At a certain point in history fairy tales were evolved into lessons keep young girls safe and pure.

After reading the story "A Lady's Hands Are Cold", I was reminded of the story Bluebeard. A wealthy woman ignores her new husband's command while he is away on business and lets curiosity take her beyond a door she was told to never open. Behind the door she finds the remains of the previous Mrs. Bluebeard murdered. Carroll's story is similar while taking a spin on the old tale to reveal a new and frightening nightmare.While that story reminded me of Bluebeard, other stories contained themes which are completely familiar such as a twist on the evil step-mother, strangers, and wolves.

With the end of each story, you're left with an eerie questions. There are no definitive answers as to what has or will happen to any of the characters at the end of each tale. There are no significant lessons to be learned except the ones you create based on what you believe happened to the characters after the story has ended. This is where Carroll's stories differ from the kind of fairy tale you have most likely grown up with. This is what makes the stories successfully, truly chilling. I cannot wait for more from this master of the macabre.

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