Under the Apple Tree by Sarah Winifred Searle

The Skinny

A ghost story and a coming of age story, in one

Set in the small, coastal town of Kennebunk, Maine, in the fall of 1942, teenager Maggie Ripple moves into a new home with her mother, but the history of the house soon catches up with her.

In a medley of genres reminiscent of Gothic fiction – mystery, romance, and horror – a young woman must deal with a fate forced upon her by unfortunate events begun a century past, all the while handling the trials and tribulations of being an idealistic young woman growing up in a remote place, forced into practicality and caution by the realities of World War II.

Under the Apple Tree is planned to run six chapters of approximately 25 pages each, or a single 150-page graphic novel.

The Style

UtAT is vaguely based on The Canterville Ghost, a short story by Oscar Wilde, and takes many of its characteristics from that genre of literature.  It is a thriller, a mystery, a romance and a coming-of-age tale all in one.

It can also be considered the “Anti-Twilight”. Nowadays, stories of young women having romantic relationships with paranormal beings are pretty popular, and most are ultimately unoriginal, and/or models of very unhealthy circumstances.  Maggie meets the ghost of a mysterious young man, and one of the aims of this story is to take what is so enthralling about this type of supernatural rendezvous and show it in a more realistic light.  He draws her in, but in the end, she weighs the actual cost of her actions.

There is also an incredible amount of historical research involved in UtAT.  Not only referencing America during 1942, but also the day to day life for women from the Civil War to the 20th century in the creator’s hometown, Kennebunk, Maine.

The Story

Maggie Ripple is a normal teenager enjoying the day-to-day routine of her life in the fall of 1942.  Until her mother pulls her from school and friends, sweeps her from the suburbs of Boston to the backwoods coastal town of Kennebunk, Maine – nearly 100 miles away. Despondent and a bit of a snob, Maggie is determined to avoid the locals, convinced her life will never be as fun as it was back in Boston.

But, well, she’s quickly proven wrong.

The Ripples aren’t the only ones living in her new home.   2nd Lieutenant Lazarus Coffin – a young soldier from the Civil War – makes himself known to her, and she becomes plagued with strange dreams that shed further light upon the mysteries of the history of the house. Discover the truth,” he entreaties her, “So I may rest.

With the assistance of a new friend, she explores the recorded past of the town as she strives to help the lost soul, all the while dealing with the trials and tribulations of growing up in a period racked by fear, loneliness, and practicality due to World War II.

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