Thursday, October 21, 2010

Review/Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill

Thursday, October 21, 2010
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?

The fascination over the events that led up to and surrounded the Salem Witch Trials continues to spark interest to old and young alike. While teaching social studies, it was always one of my students favorite aspect of the colonization of the New World. For years I have read just about every young adult fiction book written on the subject along with a few nonfiction too, so  naturally I was extremely curious about Wicked Girls.

While Wicked Girls is a very accessible read for the YA audience, and I found the verse format well written, I was disappointed in the book. I wanted stronger characterization, and more facts related to the girls, and the other prominent people involved in Salem Village, such as Tituba, and Reverend Parris. I also would have liked more time spent on the testimony given by the girls and the actual trials.

This was my first experience reading a novel written in verse format, and I had trouble discerning the individual voices of each of the three narrators. I was constantly having to check the beginning of the verse to remind myself who was speaking.  Having nothing else to compare the verse format with, I have to wonder if this is true of all verse novels or just this one.

My students have just finished writing a long paper for social studies about the causes of the witch trails, so I am anxious to get feedback from them about this book. As for me, I much prefer Ann Rinaldi’s novel A Break With Charity than I did Wicked Girls.


Nomes said...


how disappointing. I love verse novels so maybe this one was just a dud for you?

Sonya Sones novels are fab and are only from one POV (my fave of hers is What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know)

Katie said...

I don't care for verse novels, so I will be passing this one. Thanks for the review though! :)

Melissa said...

I love stories that revolve around the Salem Witch Trials - this sounds awesome, but verse novels are kind of hit or miss for me. Thanks for the honest review, Jan! :)

Christina/Book Addict said...

Thanks for the review. I had no idea that this was a verse novel! I may skip this one and I will have to check out Rinaldi's A Break with Charity instead.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

I've never heard of this book. I'm intrigued by the verse format as well as the subject, though, like you, I really like books with strong characterization. I wonder what your students will make of it?

Jenny said...

Hm. I'm seeing this book everywhere and it sounds really intriguing (I'm a huge fan of all things Salem) but I'm not sure about the verse format, I can see how that would get confusing. Thanks for this honest review!

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

Great review, I love honesty in reviews, even though it's not praise. I LOVE the topic of Salem witch trials, so I'd enjoy your classes when you were discussing them.:) It's too bad this novel is lacking, especially since it has a very cool premise. I won't buy it, but if I see it in a library, I'll borrow it. Thanks for sharing!

chelleyreads said...

not a big fan of witches/salem and i avoid books written in verse (never read one) because... i don't know... lol i prefer straight up, old school paragraphs.

thanks jan, i enjoyed reading your review anyway. maybe one day i'll pick up a novel written in verse so i can truly say i don't like them.

Darlyn said...

sounds like a let down but it also doesnt attract me much. love the cover though. thanks for honest review!

Staci said...

'Break with Charity' is excellent as is pretty much everything Rinaldi writes. I think it would be tricky to know who is talking when it comes to verse if the author doesn't clearly define it from the beginning. I have to admit that the cover is very eye-catching and I would pick it up just by first glance. Verse format works well for Ellen Hopkins and you never wonder who is speaking.

Book Sake said...

I can't say that I am familiar with verse novels either. Though now I want to check out A Break with Charity!

Jenny N. said...

Not too sure about this one though I've seen mixed reviews on it. Thanks for the review :)

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