Agnes, Murderess is a graphic novel inspired by the bloody legend of Agnes MacVee, a roadhouse owner, madam and serial killer in the Cariboo region of British Columbia in the mid- to late-nineteenth century.
Sarah Leavitt's fascinating and eerie protagonist, Agnes MacVee, spends her childhood on an isolated island off the coast of Scotland with her beautiful mother and terrifying paternal grandmother, Gormul, whom the locals avoid for fear of her witchy tendencies. When Agnes' mother succumbs to an untimely death, Agnes is left with only a doll and a book about Canada to console her.
The narrative follows Agnes as she seizes an opportunity to get off the island. She travels to London, then on to British Columbia, settling in 108 Mile in the Cariboo region. Here, she assumes ownership of a roadhouse serving the Gold Rush Trail. But no matter how far into the wild she ventures, she can't seem to rid herself of Gormul's legacy that haunts both her dreams and her waking life.
Here is a Gold Rush story like no other. Agnes, Murderess is at once a spine chilling account of one woman's journey into the Cariboo and a welcome departure from overly-dramatic and often inaccurate tales of pioneer glory. Sarah Leavitt has created a book that expresses stories about immigrants escaping their pasts, about the greed of colonialism, about sex workers trying to survive, and maybe a few cross-dressing women here and there.