In 1706, 14 years after the infamous Salem witch trials, accuser Ann Putnam Jr. publicly apologized for her role; from that documentary evidence, Crane and Decker spin an airy, atmospheric graphic-novel examination of a legacy of guilt.
After the briefest of introductions, the book opens on a tormented Ann Putnam in 1706. Both her parents having died seven years earlier, she has been de facto parent to her nine siblings; shockingly, she does not miss either of them. Through visions and flashbacks, readers get a sense of the role Ann’s parents played in her crime, exploiting their 12-year-old daughter to take the land of the accused. Her fictional recollections of her victims are interleaved with abbreviated transcripts from the trials and expressed in even, formal language. All is illustrated with Decker’s fine-lined drawings that evoke both the surreal details of the accusations and the pastoral Colonial setting. His characters’ faces have just the merest hint of individuality, which is fitting for a tale of communal guilt but also has the effect of keeping Ann something of a visual cipher. More impressionistic than expository, this treatment, which closes with the text of Ann’s apology, is no substitute for a thoroughgoing narrative history, but its attempt to understand the effects of the trials on one of its villains is provocative, to say the least.
Haunting. (afterword) (Graphic historical fiction. 12-18)