Acclaimed cartoonist Sarah Leavitt has created a gold rush story like no other: a spine chilling account of one woman’s attempt to escape her past by travelling into the wilds of the Cariboo
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 mid-nineteenth century. Fascinated by Agnes McVee and her unverified reputation as a murderer (originating in a 1970s guide to buried treasure), Sarah Leavitt has imagined an entirely new story for this mysterious woman:
Agnes’s life begins on an isolated island off the coast of Scotland with her terrifying paternal grandmother, Gormul, who is feared by the villagers as a powerful witch. Agnes is desperate to leave the island, but Gormul keeps her trapped, determined to have an heir to her land and her evil powers. With the help of her devoted friend Seamus, Agnes escapes 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, which haunts both her dreams and her 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 Cariboo. At the same time, the book grapples with the dangerous pre-conceived notion held by settlers that Canada is 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.