Book Review: Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times

Witch Hunts cover

When I purchased this book I was looking forward to read it, as the subject matter was one I had an interest in, and I haven't read a graphic novel in a long while. It was pleasurable to find that Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times, exceeded both my cravings.

It isn't easy to produce a non-fiction graphic novel – how do you encapsulate complex concepts or events in graphical form, in just a few pages, if that? While a picture may represent a thousand words, will you create the right picture, or doom the reader to the wrong thousand words? How can a bundle of pages of graphics with brief phrases, truly represent the overall theme?. Well, Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton's research and words, combined with Greg Chapman's excellent craftsmanship, certainly does tick those boxes. The reading experience is emmersive, emotional, educational.

In terms of the graphics, I particularly liked the tastefulness of the product. Sexuality, particularly the predatory side, is a part of the Witch Hunt experience, alongside brutality and sadism (all, mind you, perpetrated by those persecuting alleged witches), and yet Greg Chapman is careful in terms of how much graphic violence is portrayed – without losing the sense of what was happening. Kudos to him.

The narration, stemming from the research, is clear and concise, and equally importantly, is consistent from start to finish in terms of style. A dimension that I appreciated was the clarity of the moral message coming from the writers – this was a despicable period and it was more than just a matter of superstitious fear, it was also entwined with greed, avarice and misogyny. It was important to call a spade a spade.

As you can tell by my spiel, I really enjoyed the work, and because it is so crammed with interesting history, it is a book I can refer back to, and reread with pleasure.

A well deserved 5 stars, and worthy of winning awards.

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