The short version: Allison gave the best and most fascinatingly in-depth history tour of Salem I can imagine, and one of the best history tours I've ever been on anywhere. If you're comparing different history tours of Salem, hers is the best. If you're considering things to do in the Boston area, historic Salem makes for a great day trip. If you don't like history, would prefer a ghost tour to a history tour, or don't have the attention span or physical stamina for a fact-filled two-hour walking tour, then you should look elsewhere.
The longer (longest?) version: Salem, Massachusetts, about a half-hour train ride north of downtown Boston and closer to an hour by ferry, exerts a sufficiently outsized influence on American culture that each October it swells to three times its normal size of 40,000 people, drawing crowds who are still rightly fascinated by the tragic events that transpired here more than 300 years ago. If you're considering a visit to Salem, then you have doubtless already heard of the witch trials of 1692. But did you also know that Salem has ties to Nathaniel Hawthorne, Alexander Graham Bell, and Samantha Stephens? You can learn about all of the above on Bewitched After Dark's fantastic two-hour walking tour.
Tours of Salem generally fall into one of two categories: history tours and ghost tours. This tour falls into the former category; if it's the latter you're after, then you'll find no shortage of excellent options elsewhere. But if you're up for two hours on your feet and you want all the history you can handle, there's no better option.
For a bit more than two spellbinding (pun fully intended) hours, Allison brought Salem's past to life in vivid detail, conjuring up the lives of each of the victims of the witch trials and placing those facts into proper historical context. Her presentation was impressively detailed and scrupulously balanced. She obviously knows the history of the town inside and out, supporting her claims with extensive readings of primary sources and even revealing a personal connection to the period. In short, she loves Salem, and that love comes across clearly in her passionate presentation.
As noted above, the history of Salem includes much more than the witch trials, and on Allison's tour you'll hear about all of it. She is quick on her feet with a sharp sense of humor that breaks up what might otherwise prove to be an overwhelming sense of melancholy, and yet her deep appreciation of the place allows her to convey, for example, the somber and thoughtful symbolism of the memorial.
Just as impressively, Allison deftly navigated the October crowds and craziness, handling on the fly obstacles that might have thrown a lesser guide for a loop. She also did something I have never seen on any other historical tour (and I say this as someone who has been on at least three people's fair share of them): whereas most tour guides offer up a general, "No-questions?-okay-thanks-bye," and beat it, Allison took the time to personally greet and thank each guest, patiently answering questions long after the formal tour had ended with her characteristic knowledge, wit, and passion. On that basis -- if not long before -- it was clear to us that she really loved her work and put her whole heart into it. And when you find that kind of guide, you're pretty much guaranteed to have a good experience.
It should be noted that the tour isn't for everyone. Keep in mind that two hours on your feet is probably longer than most tours you've been on before; a couple of people on our tour overestimated their own abilities and struggled to the finish line. If you don't have two hours' worth of attention for the history of Salem, then you should likewise choose a shorter tour. Little kids will probably lose interest long before the end, and the true history of the witch trials is genuinely terrifying. Allison doesn't trump it up, but she does her best to make you feel the weight of it, as well she should; if you think your child is too young to cope with the image of loved ones tugging on the ankles of their family members mid-hanging as an act of mercy to speed the strangulation, then your child is probably too young for the tour. Finally, if you're looking for insight into the paranormal or supernatural elements of Salem, you'll almost certainly be disappointed with Allison's firmly fact-based treatment -- but through no fault of Allison's. The two types of tours would complement each other well. If you only have time or money or attention for one, though, then take the time to see what you're getting into (he says, a thousand words into his review) instead of choosing blindly and then blaming the tour company for the mismatch between your expectations and their delivery. Genre is no joke. Caveat emptor.
If it's Salem history you're after, then Allison is the best in the business. Full stop. You can thank me (or her, I guess) later.