Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Viciousness meets Verse

Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill

From Goodreads.com: “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.”

Let me begin by saying that I have never read any novel in blank verse. I didn’t know how I would feel about it, turns out, I love it! The verse made the book go by much faster and it really helped create an atmosphere.

I have read a lot about the Salem Witch trials and the surrounding history. I have been to Salem, walked those roads, and looked at the graves of the accused. A weekend trip was a birthday present from my spouse a few years ago. I figured this book would either give me a new perspective or irritate the heck out of me!

The story is told through the words of 4 of the “seers.” Because it is fictionalized, Ms. Hemphill was able to give them back stories and rearrange a little of the trials in order to make it compelling. The verse adds a level of interest to a much retold story. I loved the depth and, in some cases, the thrilling edge that poetry added. I found myself yelling at the book, at the girls, begging them to stop accusing people. I was brought to tears a couple of times.

The “Gossip Girls” element makes it appealing to teens, even those not interested in history. The only thing a reader might have to get past is the use of appropriate language (“thee” and “thou” etc.).

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