cover image When I Arrived at the Castle

When I Arrived at the Castle

Emily Carroll. Koyama, $15 (72p) ISBN 978-1-927668-68-9

Carroll (Through the Woods) crafts an eerie, dreamlike graphic novella in which a cat-eared girl braves the castle of the vampiric Countess, planning to kill her and put an end to her reign of terror. Soon, however, the would-be monster slayer finds herself sent off to a bath; then seduced, distracted, and lost in a maze of doors that lead to other fairy tale-styled heroines’ brief and tragic stories (“there once was a shepherdess whose flock began succumbing to a strange illness...”), always leading her back to the castle. The girl’s relationship with the Countess whipsaws between righteous anger, sexual fascination, and fear as the vampire toys with her. Carroll’s lush, sensual artwork complements the material, creating a sense of ornate decadence and nightmarish disorientation with elegant but economical lines in a simple red-and-black color scheme with muted grey shadowing and splatter paint details. The backgrounds carry metaphor through repeating patterns of flowers, eyes, mazes, and bones. Carroll’s fans will best appreciate this slim poetic work, as it delivers on her standards, and envelops the reader in a world that’s tense, haunting, and genuinely scary. [em](Apr.) [/em]