I try hard not to buy physical books, operating on a one-in, one-out policy to keep the size of my library in check. I'm not sure which book is going out to make space for this one, but I'm glad I bought it, because the ebook wouldn't be the same. This is a gorgeous piece of printing, from the embossed and textured cover to the crisp interior color.
I know Carroll through her web comics (Out of Skin
is my favorite, I think), but they come out at a rate of two or three of a year, so the idea of getting five all at once was exciting. It's only four new comics, really--His Face All Red
is also available as a web comic--but in a way it feels
like five new ones, because the format change makes for a fundamentally different (and, I think in some ways, lesser) reading experience. I wonder how the other four would have read if they'd been published as web comics instead of in book form; one of Carroll's strengths is making use of scrolling and enormous pages that have to be navigated back and forth, up and down, to disorient the reader and draw them deeper into the horror.
That's not to say they're not strong as print comics, too. My favorite in the collection is "A Lady's Hands Are Cold," which makes gorgeous use of color. It's an old story, but it feels fresh here. "Our Neighbor's House" effectively builds its horror toward one of Carroll's trademark inconclusive endings that manages to be all the more ominous for its lack of clear answers, while "My Friend Janna" leaves open the question of where, exactly, our sympathies should lie. In some ways I found "The Nesting Place" the weakest of the set, because it has by far the most traditional narrative, but it's balanced by some of the loveliest art, especially the protagonist's subtly captured expressions.
All of the stories deserve rereading . . . but maybe not as bedtime reading, next time.