by Emily Carroll. Koyama Press, April 2019. 72 p. ill. ISBN 9781927668689 (paperback), $15.00.

Reviewed June 2020
Rebekah Scoggins, Public Services and Instruction Librarian, Hirsch Library, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, rscoggins@mfah.org

when i arrived cover

Emily Carroll’s When I Arrived at the Castle is an intricate and horror-filled story that centers around two characters who spend a dark and stormy night in a creepy, mysterious castle. The main character comes to the castle on a mission, but a mysterious, dark haired woman lures her into a warm bath to ease the chill from her rain-soaked body. What unfolds after this is a complex narrative that mixes intriguing settings, dream-like interactions between the characters, and tales of others who have also dared enter the castle. These compelling elements leave the reader wanting to turn away from the horror but also desperate for more. Merging gothic horror, supernatural creatures, and devastatingly beautiful illustrations, Carroll creates a fantastical and frightening tale about what happens when one underestimates their opponents.

Interwoven with the eerie tale are disturbingly gory yet beautiful illustrations. The contrasting and vibrant color palette only consists of three colors – black, red, and white – but it goes unnoticed. Carroll uses these limited colors in a brilliant way that serves to enhance the overall unnerving tone of the graphic novel. The deep, dark black landscapes peppered with white accents provide the perfect setting for the shocking use of intense crimson tones that augment the danger and make the story more frightening.

Recommended for libraries with graphic novel or horror collections and mature graphic novel fans due to the prevalence of blood and nudity, this graphic novel is great for those who enjoy horror, gore, and a story that will keep the reader on the edge of their seat until the end.