Sunday, May 10, 2020

When I Arrived at the Castle – review

Author: Emily Carroll

First published: 2019

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: Like many before her that have never come back, she’s made it to the Countess’ castle determined to snuff out the horror, but she could never be prepared for what hides within its turrets; what unfurls under its fluttering flags. Emily Carroll has fashioned a rich gothic horror charged with eroticism that doesn’t just make your skin crawl, it crawls into it.

The review: I struggle to think how I will explain this exceptional volume. Illustrated, with mostly sparse prose (though it builds purposefully in a couple of areas), with a reliance on the imagery for narrative exposition, this is probably best described as a graphic novel, rather than an illustrated text, and the outstanding illustrations use black, white, grey and red to build an atmospheric, occasionally erotically Gothic and also gory landscape.

This was recommended to me by Leila, who described it as Alice in Wonderland meets Carmilla if imagined by Angela Carter – and that works for me but I wouldn’t want to limit it with that description. The Countess is never named; I got a feel of Bathory, though there is no blood bathing, as much as Carmilla, perhaps even evoking the spirit of Countess Dollingen of Gratz. Perhaps, after all there is nothing bar the Gothic sumptuousness and underlying tropes to really evoke these characters, and in the end she is her own character, of course. The girl is portrayed as an anthropomorphic woman with the face of a cat, this gives the volume a Japanese feel – and the illustration style is quite Manga. But again, I don’t want to limit this by pigeon-holing it. When I Arrived at the Castle is its own volume.

It is a short volume, but doesn’t need any more. I will mention the stunning and haunting illustration of the bloodied core of the Countess  rising from her shed skin but, other than that, I don’t want to spoil this by saying anything further. Astounding, outstanding and necessary for the genre fan. 9 out of 10. Many thanks to Ian, who bought me the volume.

In Paperback @ Amazon US

In Paperback @ Amazon UK


Ian said...

Most welcome sensei

Taliesin_ttlg said...