Book Review: Wicked Girls
Published By: Balzar & Bray
Publication Date: June 2010
Page Count: 416
Audience: YA - Historical Fiction
The Salem Witch Trials have always been an event that I found to be both tragic and intriguing. What could possibly cause young women to act in such a way that nineteen people were hanged for the crime of witchcraft? The mass hysteria of this time period boggles the mind and really makes one stop to consider the selfishness of human nature. How can people be so dark inside their souls? Stephanie Hemphill's book provides another text with suggestions about why the girls in Salem became bewitched - in their own words.
The research in this one is flawless. While Hemphill stays true to the historical record of the event, she does add in her own interpretations and changes a few of the names. For example, Elizabeth Proctor is called Rebecca in this one. The end of the book contains information on all the people within the book, but the changing of names is never explained. However, all of the historical figures from the event and many who made appearances in The Crucible appear within this text.
Hemphill's tale revolves around the bewitched girls - particularly those of Ann, Mercy, Margaret, Abigail, and Elizabeth. The story is told through the alternating narration of Ann, Mercy, and Margaret. I loved this format as it allowed me to see the different perspectives more clearly, but also spoke to the cultural implications of each girl's station within the social hierarchy of the village. Mercy, as a servant, has less rights than the other girls, but her status as one who can see the invisible world, quickly elevates her in the eyes of society. The characters in this book aren't likable - they aren't supposed to be - but there is something that compels you to read their stories and attempt to understand the madness behind their actions.
Another interesting element of this read is that is told entirely in verse. I discovered my love of verse novels when I first stumbled upon Ellen Hopkins and Lisa Schroeder. I was excited to find a historical piece done in verse since this is less common. Hemphill's use of language is alluring and haunting.
Wicked Girls is a must read for historical fiction lovers, people interested in learning more about the Salem Witch Trials, and verse novel fans. This is one I will be adding to my collection. I got it from the library originally because I wasn't sure if I would enjoy it, but its a must own.
One Last Gripe: I still don't understand how adults in this town just took the word of children. Innocent people were killed because of the sinister workings of a group of girls. It is a sad thing to consider.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: The structure and language
First Sentence: Silent, not even the twitter of insects.
Favorite Character: Mercy
Least Favorite Character: Margaret
What started out as girls' games became a witch hunt. Wicked Girls is a fictionalized account of the Salem witch trials told from the perspectives of three of the real young women living in Salem in 1692.
Ann Putnam Jr. plays the queen bee. When her father suggests that a spate of illnesses within the village is the result of witchcraft, Ann grasps her opportunity. She puts in motion a chain of events that will change the lives of the people around her forever.
Mercy Lewis, the beautiful servant in Ann's house, inspires adulation in some and envy in others. With a troubled past, she seizes her only chance at safety.
Margaret Walcott, Ann's cousin, is desperately in love and consumed with fiery jealousy. She is torn between staying loyal to her friends and pursuing the life she dreams of with her betrothed.
With new accusations mounting daily against the men and women of the community, the girls will have to decide: Is it too late to tell the truth?
A Printz Honor winner for Your Own, sylvia, Stephanie Hemphill uses evocative verse to weave a nuanced portrait of one of the most chilling and fascinating times in our nation's history.