cover image A Guest in the House

A Guest in the House

Emily Carroll. First Second, $28 (256p) ISBN 978-1-250-25552-5

Echoes of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca abound in this fantastic and frightening graphic novel from Eisner Award winner Carroll (Through the Woods). Quiet convenience store clerk Abby has just recently married David, an older dentist and single father to Crystal. David’s first wife, Sheila, died tragically. In something of an oft-used horror trope, Crystal has been seeing and drawing pictures of Sheila, and before long, Abby herself begins seeing a spirit identifying itself as Sheila. At first the specter appears creature-like before morphing into a beautiful princess from a fairy tale Abby used to read as a child—the same tale Crystal is reading now. To say any more about the story risks diluting its thrills and chills; the narrative takes readers to places both familiar and shockingly not. What’s most remarkable is Carroll’s phantasmagoric artwork, at once mesmerizing and teeth-clenchingly macabre, like Miyazaki gone goth. Almost every page is a dreamscape in which, like the hallways of a wondrous house, one might not mind getting lost. Personality-wise the characters are a bit milquetoast—Abby perhaps purposefully so—but Carroll’s linework and coloring render them in shades melancholy, whimsical, and sinister. While the ending might invite more questions than answers, the wild turns taken and the dazzling visuals make this one scary good. (Aug.)