All images: Koyama Press

Cartoonist Emily Carroll is a master of imbuing beautiful images with terrifying menace, using a graceful line and luxurious design sensibility to lure readers into stories that highlight the darker aspects of humanity. Carroll’s new Koyama Press graphic novella, When I Arrived At The Castle, spotlights this skill as she crafts an erotic gothic thriller around a gorgeous woman, her opulent but creepy castle, and a house guest with murderous motivations for visiting. As the title suggests, the setting plays an integral part in the narrative, and Carroll’s rich details and fluid page designs make the castle an expansive environment steeped in an ominous atmosphere.

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Those characteristics are at the forefront of this exclusive preview, which has the main character moving through the castle on her own and making a frightening discovery about her hostess. Koyama Press does exceptional work with production design, releasing comics that have their own distinct dimensions, binding, paper stock, and trade dress to make each book a specific, special product. The oversized dimensions of When I Arrived At The Castle accentuate the splendor of Carroll’s storytelling, but thanks to Carroll’s expressive layouts, the size of the page also informs the emotional content in different ways.

This excerpt ends with a five-page sequence presented entirely through a keyhole in a door. The composition reinforces a sense of being enveloped by darkness, and containing the image in that tight space makes it all the more shocking when the hostess’ true form explodes from her flesh. Carroll’s use of red in these pages is particularly effective, and as the supernatural danger grows, the color becomes more prominent on the page. When I Arrived At The Castle is on sale now, and readers looking for a spooky, sexy, stunningly illustrated horror story will want to take a trip to this haunted spot.

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