The great parts of this book make up the majority, and Lies in the Dust truly is stunning when looked at critically. The quiet, slow pace of the book creates a striking contrast with its stark, black and white art. It wastes no time dallying on topics which are unneeded, and each chapter has an impact on the reader which, in my experience, has not been paralleled by many works of literature. Putnam's thoughts on the cruelty of these trials are as beautiful and depressing as they had to be. The majority of the book is thought provoking and intriguing. Though the simple art may sometimes be lacking, it still serves its purpose well. It is simple to imagine the characters any way you wish to, which is an important, easy way to help the reader envision their book. Ann's siblings also represent the innocence which is held by children, even in such a horrible, cruel situation. Once more, its contrast with Ann's older wisdom, gained by all her experience, is an amazing, powerful complement to the book. Its simplistic art style only deepens the impact of its meaning. There is no distraction here, whether with narrative or art, which is why I believe it is a great read for anyone. If you are interested in history, as I am, then I believe you will enjoy this book very much.
However, the book is nowhere near perfect. The pacing of it is fairly difficult to keep up with, as it frequently shifts from Ann’s perspective, post-trial, to a flashback of the trials. The art, though simple, is not of the greatest quality, and it is sometimes difficult to tell what drawings are supposed to be what. Those are all the really striking problems I could find with it, though, so the good parts of this book truly outweigh the bad.
Though it has its own issues, as all books do, Lies in the Dust truly is a masterpiece. And as a debut title for Crane, there is surely much to expect from him in the future. Some of its themes could be found inappropriate, with death and depression being the main violations. Beyond that, I would recommend it to seventh graders and up. Though there is some Old English which is difficult to read, it is not too hard beyond that. However, it still is a challenge, so the book’s difficulty is nicely balanced. If you would like to read about the Salem Witch Trials, but don’t believe that you are ready to tackle a book like The Crucible, then this is just what you need. I would give this book a 4 out of 5 rating.