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I Belong

Review: Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill

Title: Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials

Author: Stephanie Hemphill

Genre: YA Historical Fiction


Publication Date: June 29, 2010

Format: Hardcover, 408 Pages

ISBN-10: 0061853283 (Harper Teen)

ISBN-13: 978-0061853289 (Harper Teen)

Reviewed by: Bridget


From Printz Honor winner and Your Own, Sylvia author Stephanie Hemphill comes this fictionalized account of the Salem Witch trials from three of the real young women living in Salem in 1692.

Ann Putnam Jr. is the queen bee. When her father suggests a spate of illnesses in the village is the result of witchcraft, she puts in motion a chain of events that will change Salem forever.

Mercy Lewis is the beautiful servant in Ann’s house who inspires adulation in some and envy in others. With her troubled past, she seizes her only chance at safety.

Margaret Walcott, Ann’s cousin, is desperately in love. She is torn between staying loyal to her friends and pursuing a life with her betrothed.

With new accusations mounting against the men and women of the community, the girls will have to decide: Is it too late to tell the truth?

Quick & Dirty: Interesting fictional recount of what happened during the Salem Witch Trials.  Filled with history and a very unique writing style, I found it to be quite fascinating and educational.

Opening Sentence: Silent, not even the twitter of insects.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review

The Salem Witch Trials were a very dark and unfair time in our countries history.  A small group of seven girls changed the lives of so many people.  They were considered seers and anyone they accused of witchcraft was tried and convicted.  In the end, 19 people were hanged because of the girl’s action, and many more died in prison.  This is a fictional recount of the girl’s lives, and the part they played in the Salem Witch Trials.

The book is told from three different perspectives Ann, Mercy, and Margaret.  Ann Putnam was 12 years old and an ungrateful child.  She was young and wanted attention and she found a way to get it.  She wasn’t the first person to accuse anyone of witchcraft, but she quickly took advantage once the accusations started.  She soon became the leader of the small group of girls and she would punish anyone that got in her way of what she wanted, even those within her own group.  She idolized their serving girl Mercy, who was beautiful and mysterious.  She wanted nothing more than to be Mercy’s friend and confidant.  Ann was an interesting character to get to know.  She never seemed to ever feel any remorse for her actions.  She was a spoiled brat most of the time and really there wasn’t much to like about her.  She did know how to get what she wanted, but she had to pay a steep price to get it.  She wasn’t a very likable character, but she was realistic and I think that was what the author was going for.

Next we have Mercy.  She was 17 years old and the servant to the Putnam family.  She wasn’t born a servant, but after her families death she had no other choice but to become a servant.  She was beautiful and that was a huge burden for her.  Because of her low station in life men would try to take advantage of her, and she had no way of protecting herself.  Then sweet little Ann gave her a way to earn respect, she just had to pretend to see witches.  I actually really liked Mercy, obliviously what she did was wrong, but at least she had a good reason for doing it.  Also, when things started to get out of hand she did start to feel some remorse for her actions.  She wasn’t the leader of the group, but all the girls either looked up to her or were jealous of her.  She was a very interesting character that I enjoyed getting to know.

Last we have Margaret.  She was 17 years old and a cousin to Ann.  She was a very insecure girl that was madly in love with her fiancée, and extremely jealous of Mercy.  She had no backbone and was easily convinced to join the group of accusers.  She would do anything to make her fiancée love her; even accuse innocent people of witchcraft.  Unfortunately, he is not a fan of her actions, and it causes a big rift between the two.  He pays way too much attention to the beautiful Mercy and Margaret becomes even more insecure.  She was a sad girl that didn’t know how to stand up for herself.  Her jealousy was childish, and she made really bad decisions.  I wasn’t a huge fan of Margaret, but once again, I don’t think the author really wants you to like the characters.

This was an interesting read for me.  I really love history and I have always found the Salem Witch Trials to be fascinating, so I really enjoyed learning more about it.  The pacing of the book was pretty slow, but it was a quick read because the book was written in verses so the pages were really short.  The way it was written was interesting and different, but I really liked it.  I didn’t really love the characters, but I felt that I understood them.  Overall, I did enjoy this book and would recommend it to anyone that likes history, or the Salem Witch Trials.

Notable Scene:

I scratch my head.

“Men listening to the words of girls?

Are you certain, Ann?”

“Yes, ‘tis true.”

“If only ye could visit the parsonage

and see the girls.”

“Oh, but I have seen Abigail

this very day.  I saw exactly

how she does twitch and shake.

I know what the witches do to torture her.”

Ann twists her torso tight as a rope,

then juts her bones inside out.

Much as I might like to cover my eyes

as Ann cripples her body into a sailor’s knot,

my arms hang at my sides.

My mouth droops open.

“They call it Affliction,” Ann says.

“All are in awe of it.”

A flash of mischief crosses Ann’s eyes,

as she watches me watching her,

like the torch that smokes

heaven’s white edge.

FTC Advisory: Balzer & Bray/Harper Teen provided me with a copy of Wicked Girls. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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One Response to “Review: Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill

  1. Freda MansNo Gravatar

    Great review, this book sounds fascinating.

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