I don’t know what, really, it was that I expected to find from The Daughters of Salem by Thomas Gilbert but it definitely didn’t match what came. And I think this largely comes from the degree to which this graphic novel is, for lack of a better phrase, incredibly graphic. The disturbing images that manage to sneak in at various points were rather difficult to stomach and ultimately I found myself feeling increasingly nauseous at times; a particular moment with an innocent dog comes to mind immediately, though I wish I could burn that image from my brain. What this ultimately comes down to is the fact that I wasn’t looking for a horror story when I picked this book up, but rather an honest account of the terrible persecution that women faced in this time period. It feels like a horror story is what I got. Which, honestly, is fine if that’s what a reader wants to get out of this book.
I don’t know if I feel as though the book really calls out how truly awful some of the oppression females faced back then actually was and is. The fact that the main character, upon turning thirteen, is shamed for accepting a gift from a boy who’d been her friend for many years was a deeply disturbing and uncomfortable moment, especially when paired with the illustrations that depict the moment. The religious folk were incredibly awful as people, but definitely seemed accurate as far as my knowledge of this time period goes.
I wasn’t overly fond of the way in which the novel was narrated, read as a sort of summary overlaying the events that happened in the story rather than really delving into the characters themselves, which I feel left us somewhat unable to get to know many of the characters better.
And finally, I just don’t care for how the book ended. The majority of the novel was focused more on setting the scene for the time, the world, and the general thoughts of the people. There was never any mention of witches or even the witch trials, but rather it set up an understanding for how women were thought of at the time. And then it ended on a cliffhanger, with a known uneducated woman screaming up to god in the rain.
Overall, I felt that this was more of a horror story than a way of accounting the terrible events that happened during this time in Salem. I wouldn’t say there was a whole lot wrong with the book, but rather that it wasn’t my cup of tea.
I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.