An Outbreak of Witchcraft: A Graphic Novel of the Salem Witch Trials

An Outbreak of Witchcraft is a mostly true graphic novel that explores the Salem Witch Trials, judiciously balancing the accusations, the stories of the accused, and the historical aftermath.

In 1692, two teenage girls levied accusations of witchcraft against a seemingly beloved servant. By the end of 1693, dozens of people had been accused of collaborating with the devil, with 20 innocent people hanged, burned at the stake, and pressed to death for the invisible crime of witchcraft. The Salem Witch Trials raised many questions as to what was real, both from those in the community and folks looking back--so, what actually happened?

In this illuminating middle-grade work of historical fiction, author Deborah Noyes (Lady Icarus) follows real people and "documented facts," but "for reasons of narrative flow and coherence... has taken the occasional literary license with certain details and timelines." Ultimately, Noyes acknowledges, there is no one reason why the Salem Witch Trials started, which may be challenging for some younger readers looking for concrete answers. Charismatic, expressive, full-color illustrations by M. Duffy propel the story and, along with an illustrated dramatis personae at the book's beginning, help differentiate the many similar historical figures. Three interstitials from Noyes explain background information, allowing for nuance and elucidation. Fans of graphic novels like the I Survived series or Ink Girls--and teachers looking for a supplement to their early American education--should enjoy this approachable, slightly fictionalized account of the infamous events. --Nicole Brinkley, bookseller and writer

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