Title: The Daughter’s of Salem
Author: Thomas Gilbert
Book Length: 106 pages
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel
Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Colonial Massachusetts, early 1690’s. When a young girl in a Puritan town rejects a farmer boy’s gift and instead slips out into the forest to dance with a young man from the Abenaki tribe, it sets off a chain of events resulting in one of the worst cases of mass hysteria in U.S. history, as neighbor turns against neighbor and friends accuse friends of the most terrible things. A fictional re-imagining of the Salem Witch Trials, in which gender politics, religion, xenophobia, innocent games of fortune-telling, and one man’s sinful indiscretion are all factors that lead to the deadly witch hunt.
My review has major spoilers, so read on with caution.
My Review: This is the first graphic novel that I am reading, and am only doing so to meet the requirement of my “52 books in 52 weeks” challenge. First, I was very surprised at the plot summary on Goodreads, because it wasn’t really accurate. The plot really goes like this:
Abigail doesn’t reject the wooden carving from Peter, she accepts it, but rejects any further advances. Due to this acceptance, everyone in the town thought that Abigail had sex with Peter. They thought this simply because he had given her a wooden carving of a donkey. Was this something that really happened in the 1690’s or is this really far-fetched? In any event her step-mother goes completely postal, saying “and when she’s with child who will care for it” and “I’ll gather the council! Together we’ll decide the fate of your [Abigail’s] body.” My initial reaction was, huh?
Then the women’s council said that Abigail was about to have her period…and for some reason this meant that instantly every man in town would want to do her immediately. They cut off all her hair to make her less attractive to men, but I guess it didn’t work. “The gaze of men quickly changed. It became mocking and full of lust.” In reading on, I found out that she is only thirteen…and was like what!?!
The story jumps ahead two years, and now Abigail is 15 years old. She tells us the story about life in Salem, the familiar characters from Salem’s history–however, Tituba in this story is a Native American? Anyway, over the years Abigail has been meeting in secret with a Native American boy/man (?), Mikweh. She spills the beans to her friend Betty, and they go to meet with him in the forest. He plays some music on the flute, and they dance to the music. They return to meet with him several times, getting too comfortable and letting their guard down (it’s supposed to be a secret after all). Tituba finds out, but don’t worry, since she is a Native American, she goes with them next time and she is able to act as a translator. Convenient that Tituba is Native American I guess.
Meanwhile, the townspeople are gathering their guns to go hunt the Native Americans because the preacher in town says that they are the “devil”, and causing the crops to fail. They kill one Native American, but it is not clear yet whether it is Mikweh. Betty confesses to her father (the preacher) about meeting in the woods with Mikweh (what a dummy). The town slowly falls into unrest and goes back to its pagan ways, looking away from the Church. Which is really strange, because in real life, I thought everyone in Salem was super devout Christians, which is why they were murdering the “witches”? This book doesn’t seem to fit in with the true events. Or was it not meant to? I don’t get it. By the end they are ready to follow the church again and kill two people accused of being witches.
Then Part 1 ends.
The Artwork: Having not read any other graphic novel, I don’t know how the artwork compares to others, but I thought that the artwork was only so so. Sometimes I had a hard time distinguishing between the characters, as everyone looked so similar. Additionally, it was very violent…entrails, brains, a Native American shot in the face, a dog whose brains were bashed in. Not for the weak at heart and all the detailed violence just seemed gratuitous.
Expectations/Recommendations: I did not know what to expect when starting to read this graphic novel, as I have never read one before. When I read the description of the book, I thought this would be right up my alley…but I just did not like it at all.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”