Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill 5 of 5 stars.
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? (Book blurb)
1692 is hardly an easy time for young women. Dealing with the hardships of growing up in a community where women mean very little and young women practically nothing, it shouldn't be a surprise that young girls would cling to any sense of purpose they could find, even if it sent others to their graves.
Wicked Girls tells the dark story of the first accusers of the Salem witch trials. Stephanie Hemphill seamlessly combines history with fiction to create very likely back stories for these girls. She brings into view the reason behind the girls' lies and affliction. We see a story of abuse and mistreatment unfold as the wickedness spreads throughout this small Puritan community.
One of the things I found most fascinating about this book was that it was not written simply in prose but in verse. I find it adds to the dramatic effect and also shapes things so that we understand what these girls are seeing and feeling, but we don't hear their thoughts literally. We know what drives them, but at the same time, we still don't fully understand them. It maintains mystery while still giving us a view into the girls' hearts.
The grief and regret that was felt at the end of the story was weighty and real, but it did not seem to extend to all the characters (particularly the younger ones). This, to me, helps to show that while some of these girls understood their actions and felt the guilt of what they had done, not all of them understood what implications their actions really had.
I have always been interested in the Salem trial, long before I found out my families history in them, and I think Stephanie Hemphill has done a marvelous job with this novel. Whether you are new to the trials, or have studied about them before I believe anyone could enjoy this book, either for the historical significance or for the beautiful writing.
For fans of: Sacrifice by Kathleen Benner Duble, Stephanie Hemphill
Many thanks to HarperTeen for sending me a copy to review!
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