Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pub. Date: July 1st, 2010
Age Level: 13+
Wicked Girls is a fictionalized account of the Salem witch trials based on the real historical characters, told from the perspective of three young women living in Salem in 1692—Mercy Lewis, Margaret Walcott, and Ann Putnam Jr.
When Ann’s father suggests that a spate of illnesses within the village is the result of witchcraft, Ann sees an opportunity and starts manifesting the symptoms of affliction. Ann looks up to Mercy, the beautiful servant in her parents' house. She shows Mercy the power that a young girl is capable of in a time when women were completely powerless. Mercy, who suffered abuse at the hands of past masters, seizes her only chance at safety. And Ann’s cousin Margaret, anxious to win the attention of a boy in her sights, follows suit. As the accusations mount against men and women in the community, the girls start to see the deadly ramifications of their actions. Should they finally tell the truth? Or is it too late to save this small New England town?
Enthralling and lyrically portrayed, Wicked Girls raises the bar for YA historical fiction with it's elegant writing, insightful alternating points of view, mesmerizing premise and exceptionally thorough research.
One of the first things I noticed about the girls involved in the Salem Witch Trials was how shockingly similar their intricate emotions and complex motives were to teen girls in the here and now. Somehow Hemphill managed to make her characters seem not only relevant but real and authentic, almost as though she had actually met them, rather than fictionalizing their personalities. It makes me wonder if she happened to stumble across their ghosts while researching for Wicked Girls. Though the various girls all had their own reasons for claiming ‘Affliction’ and crying "Witch!" , as a whole it seemed to be mostly about having influence, belonging, and for once in their lives, having a voice. This, believe it or not, actually made me sympathize for the characters despite the horrid consequences of their fervent and thoughtless actions. There were two characters I particularly found fascination with. The first was Mercy, one of the narrators; oh the nightmares this girl went through. The second was Elizabeth whom I couldn't help but feel was unwillingly dragged into everything and in a way, was truly tormented.
One small problem I found with Wicked Girls was that it seemed to get repetitive at times. I do, however, believe this is probably because Hemphill was trying to avoid over embellishing and dressing up the actual historical events to maintain close accuracy and I applaud her for this. Wicked Girls was truly gripping and unique in it's premise leaving me drawn into the richly depicted lives of these girls, eagerly anticipating what would become of them. This brings me to my next point; at the end of the book, Hemphill has actually included notes on not only what happened to the real girls who accused and were involved in the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 but also what happened to the real people that they accused of being witches. These sections along with her Author's Notes and a bibliography go to show Hemphill put a lot of hard work into making sure she got her facts straight; of course some things were changed 'for storytelling purposes' which is perfectly understandable.
At first, I wasn't all to sure about the author's decision to write this novel in verse and I'll admit that it took me a short time to get adjusted to the dialect. Once I did, though, I was able to let myself sink into the beautifully, poetic style that this book was meant to be written in; a wise decision on Hemphill's part.
I wasn't ever really sure how this book was going to end or what would happen to our dear, twisted leading ladies but I can honestly say I was fairly satisfied by how everything was brought to a close. Also, as I said above, getting to know what happened to the real people after the Salem Witch Trials was not only informative but intriguing as well.
All in all, Wicked Girls has true award winning qualities. I realize this book may not be everyone's cup of tea but I highly recommend it anyway, particularly to fans of historical fiction. Though this book is considered YA, I can easily see it being read and loved by adults. This is definitely a book I'll be hanging onto.
Site Announcements, Updates, Etc
~Review: The Killing Woods
~Review: The Waiting Sky
~Review: A Certain Slant of Light
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill
Posted by ~The Book Pixie at 7/06/2010 10:25:00 PM