The Salem Witch Trials of 1692 and 1693 seem like something out of a horror story. In one of America’s darkest chapters, Puritan girls accused scores of men and women of witchcraft. When it was finally over, at least 20 people had been executed or had died in jail. But what happened to the young accusers? The short graphic novel Lies in the Dust takes a look at Ann Putnam, the only girl who ever formally apologized for her actions. Fourteen years after the trials, Ann is still in Salem, taking care of her five younger siblings. She is an outcast, a sinner, and the girl the no one is allowed to talk to. Through simple yet stunning illustrations and brief passages, her painful perspective of the trials is unfolded.
Lies in the Dust is a fresh take of the Salem Witch Trials. It was very thought-provoking to read a book that was from the point of view of an accuser years after the trials. Ann Putnam and the other girls did wrong accusing over 200 people of witchcraft, but the true conundrum is why they did it. There are many ideas, some of them scientific, but this book’s hypothesis is on the psychological spectrum. Ann’s struggle is revealed through flashbacks involving herself and her scheming parents. An afterword provides more straightforward information. While Crane’s prose is to the point and easy to understand, it sometimes takes a delightful lyrical quality. Decker only uses pen and ink for his illustrations, but those basic mediums work very well for this graphic novel. The black and white pictures convey both the tedium of Puritan life and the mass hysteria that arose during the trials. Lies in the Dust is also a wonderful resource for teachers whose students can’t read The Crucible just yet! Lies in the Dust is a gripping graphic novel that is accessible and well-crafted.