Agnes, Murderess is a graphic novel inspired by the bloody legend of Agnes McVee, a roadhouse owner, madam and serial killer in the Cariboo region of British Columbia in the late nineteenth century. Fascinated by this legend—which originated in a 1970s guide to buried treasure in BC, and has never been verified—Sarah Leavitt has imagined an entirely new story for the mysterious Agnes: her immigration to Canada from an isolated Scottish Island; her complex entanglement with shiny things; and her terrifying grandmother, Gormul, who haunts Agnes's dreams and waking life.
Leavitt puts a decidedly queer twist on the story, moving from women's passionate friendships in the gardens of St John's Wood to female relationships in the Canadian wild. At the same time, the book grapples with the dangerous pre-conceived notions held by settlers that the country was a "new world," free of ghosts and history. Agnes, Murderess presents a tortured, complicated woman struggling to escape her past. It is a spine-chilling tale of ghosts and murder, friendship and betrayal, love and greed, fate and choice.
I could not put Agnes, Murderess down. Gothic horror meets feminist history in this deceptively spare novel of a 19th century Scottish waif turned serial killer. Along the way, the characters and the reader alike are haunted by considerations of power stolen away and seized back, colonialism, loneliness, desire, obsession, friendship, and even love.
"[A] delightful feminist gothic horror graphic novel."