A Guest in the House (2023)

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Synopsis

In Emily Carroll’s haunting adult graphic novel horror story A Guest in the House, a young woman marries a kind dentist only to realize that there’s a dark mystery surrounding his former wife’s death.

After many lonely years, Abby’s just gotten married. She met her new husband—a recently widowed dentist—when he arrived in town with his young daughter, seeking a new start. Although it’s strange living in the shadow of her predecessor, Abby does her best to be a good wife and mother. But the more she learns about her new husband’s first wife, the more things don’t add up. And Abby starts to wonder . . . was Sheila’s death really by natural causes? As Abby sinks deeper into confusion, Sheila’s memory seems to become a force all its own, ensnaring Abby in a mystery that leaves her obsessed, fascinated, and desperately in love for the first time in her life.

Emily’s masterful balance of black and white, surreal colors, rich textures, and dramatic lettering is assured to bring this story to life and give readers a chill up their spine as they read.

From: Macmillan

Notes on This Title

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Awards

Autostraddle Best Queer Books of 2023 - Comics/Graphic Novels and Memoirs
ALA Graphic Novels & Comics Round Table - 2023 Best Graphic Novels for Adults
2024 Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ+ Comics - Nominee

Reviews

Starred review: “Carroll brings her deliciously disquieting style to this gothic tale of a new marriage and the sinister secrets lurking beneath the veneer of cozy domesticity. … Readers will think they know where the story is going as Abby uncovers discrepancies in David’s story, and Crystal starts drawing pictures of a woman under the water, but Carroll takes this familiar tale into new territory. Abby’s bland reality is presented in shades of gray, while her fairy-tale fantasies are rendered in lurid colors that swirl through the pages, eventually bleeding together in a hallucinatory landscape that is both gorgeous and ghastly. The shocking ending is confusing enough to be jarring, but there is no better marriage than Carroll’s strong writing and her incredible artwork.” (Source: Booklist)

“It’s almost a decade since Carroll published her Eisner award-winning collection of comic horror stories, Through the Woods, and it’s good to have her back; her gothic imagination and instinct for plot combining to make pages – sometimes monochrome and sometimes bright scarlet – that are always involving and often rather beautiful. For me, the ending of A Guest in the House is too perfunctory; the book seems to finish before it should, with too many questions left unanswered. It’s frustrating. But the route there, part Betty Friedan and part Du Maurier, is masterful. If the mind is an attic, it’s sometimes best to leave its door firmly closed.” (Source: The Guardian)

“What makes Carroll’s work such a compelling read are the visuals, which are consistently surprising and expertly move from one stylistic tactic to the next, each creating its own particular mood. For example, the narrator’s scene-setting monologues are delivered in dull typeset set against lackluster, grayscale snapshots of life in this nondescript house, where the cupboards are neat and loons can be overheard in the mornings. On the other hand, when Abby falls into her own overwhelming world of daydreams and horrible whimseys, flashes of color — mostly a shocking red, and also a veiny blue — appear, fading away as quickly as they suddenly emerge.” (Source: NPR)

“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.” (Source: Publishers Weekly)

Interviews

The Nerd Daily: “Q&A: Emily Carroll, Author of ‘A Guest in the House’”

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