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Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials Hardcover – June 29, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray; 1 edition (June 29, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061853283
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061853289
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #907,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up–Wicked Girls weaves a fresh interpretation of the events put forth in Arthur Miller's The Crucible and revisited more recently by Katherine Howe in The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane (Voice, 2009). Mercy Lewis, Ann Putnam, and Mary Walcott (in this story, called “Margaret”) point their fingers, lift their eyes, and cry “witch” once again. Elderly Goody Nurse appears, Mary Warren (here called “Ruth”) recants her accusations, John Proctor is accused and hanged, and Giles Corey is pressed to death. The verse format is fresh and engaging, distilling the actions of the seven accusing girls into riveting narrative. In Hemphill's village of Salem, Mercy Lewis (age 17) and Ann Putnam, Jr. (age 12) vie for control of the group of girls who quickly become swept up by their celebrity. Their accusations become self-serving: the merest look or shudder from one of the “afflicted” means the offender (an inattentive lover; someone who has done a parent wrong) risks being branded a witch or wizard. Eventually, the group fractures and the girls turn on each other, leading to cruelty and death. In the author's note, Hemphill outlines the historical background, with source notes for further reading. As in Your Own, Sylvia (Knopf, 2007), she bases her book in fact, but acknowledges that “certain names and accounts have been changed, amended and altered” in the construction of her novel. Teens may need some encouragement to pick up this book, but it deserves a place in most high school collections.Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Hemphill follows her Printz Honor Book Your Own, Sylvia (2007) with another bold verse novel based on historical figures. Here, her voices belong to the “afflicted” girls of Salem, whose accusations of witchcraft led to the hangings of 19 townspeople in 1692. Once again, Hemphill's raw, intimate poetry probes behind the abstract facts and creates characters that pulse with complex emotion. According to an appended author's note, unresolved theories about the causes of the girls' behavior range from bread-mold-induced hallucinations to bird flu. In Hemphill's story, the girls fake their afflictions, and the book's great strength lies in its masterful unveiling of the girls' wholly believable motivations: romantic jealousy; boredom; a yearning for friendship, affection, and attention; and most of all, empowerment in a highly constricting and stratified society that left few opportunities for women. Layering the girls' voices in interspersed, lyrical poems that slowly build the psychological drama, Hemphill requires patience from her readers. What emerge are richly developed portraits of Puritanical mean girls, and teens will easily recognize the contemporary parallels in the authentic clique dynamics. An excellent supplementary choice for curricular studies of Arthur Miller's The Crucible, this will also find readers outside the classroom, who will savor the accessible, unsettling, piercing lines that connect past and present with timeless conflicts and truths. Grades 7-12. --Gillian Engberg

Customer Reviews

Ms. Hemphill weaves this beautifully into the story.
Crystal Fulcher
I wasn't a huge fan of Margaret, but once again, I don't think the author really wants you to like the characters.
Dark Faerie Tales
I enjoyed this book, although it felt like it took me forever to read.
Brianna Soloski

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By K. Burgess on July 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I'm not normally a historical fiction enthusiast and not that Wicked Girls is supposed to be an accurate capturing of this period in history per say, but there was something about the cover and description of this book that had me really wanting to get my hands on it. I will admit that while I still don't consider myself to be a big fan of historical texts, I was glad I gave this book a chance.

Stephanie Hemphill took me by surprise by writing the entire book in verse (which had me about as excited as I would be to go to the dentist) but actually turned out to be a great thing. She turned my opinion around immediately. It may have been in verse, but to me it wasn't like the daunting verse I read in school, this read more like a diary entry from each of the girls. From the perspectives of three of the young girls who were accusers during the Salem Witch trials it was almost spellbinding. I can't imagine it being as powerful if it had been written any other way.

I've read the historical accounts from the Salem trials in many classrooms, and who didn't see Winona Ryder in The Crucible? So I knew what to expect in some way from this book, but just like before, as soon as the action started I couldn't believe these young girls could possibly have wielded so much power and such extremes as controlling the very lives and deaths of others. All sparking from the desire to be noticed, jealousy of others, and outright greed and malicious natures, these girls held and controlled the lives of an entire village. It terrifies me every time I think about it. Once the girls get things moving, everything quickly gets way out of control, but what now? The only way to set things right would be to confess all, and how can they do that? I admit I'd be scared to come clean too.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on June 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for a story about some of the original "mean girls," look no further. WICKED GIRLS by Stephanie Hemphill is about a group of young girls in Salem, Massachusetts, who began identifying their own village neighbors as witches. They accused many and the result was the hanging deaths of countless innocent victims.

Led by Mercy Lewis, Margaret Walcott, and Ann Putnam Jr., this group of girls, aged 8-18, devised a game to accuse various village members of witchcraft. The girls became known as the Seers and were said to be afflicted and given to fits and fainting whenever a witch was present. The girls all reported pinches causing bruises and welts, saying those they accused had used the Devil's power to inflict the injuries.

Amazingly, the men of the village church and the village council believed the girls and set about holding hearings and trials for the accused. Upon the testimony of the girls, innocent people were found guilty, imprisoned, and later put to death.

According to Hemphill's author's note, research didn't really reveal the reason behind the girls' plan, so in this fictionalized account, she speculates as to the motivations for their behavior. Much like modern day, the story illustrates the power of the bully and the mindless followers that become part of such groups.

Readers interested in this era of our history will find the book a unique presentation of the topic. Even if history is not a reader's area of interest, the story is still a fascinating one. Written in verse that alternates from one girl to the next, WICKED GIRLS presents the events of a year in a small village and the amazing craziness that will forever be known as the Salem Witch Trials.

Reviewed by: Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky"
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ecogirl87 on February 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I loved the truth that came through in this novel - the characters were all names of or based on people that played a part in the 1692 Salem Witch trials. There are a lot of similarities to the Crucible but instead of written in play form, this novel is told from various points of view - always from one of the accusing girls. Initially this confused me but once I became familiar with the characters it was wonderful to see a certain event from more than one point of view. After the story, the author includes historical information as to who the girls really were and where they ended up after the trials. A great tale with a haunting background - I recommend this to anyone who loves a good young adult story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Crystal Fulcher VINE VOICE on July 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I will admit I am fascinated by the Salem Witch Trials and the truth of the matter is I know very little about them. When I saw Wicked Girls I knew I had to read it. What I didn't realize was that it was written in verse. I have never read a novel in verse and honestly I thought about sending it on and not reading it (it was for a book tour). But I started it, and once I started it I could not put it down. After reading the first 5-10 pages I became use to the writing in verse and it flowed so well. I liked the little stories told by each of the main players and how they interweaved. When one would stop the story, another would pick it up and it just flowed so well throughout the book.

Told from the point of view of Mercy, the servant girl, Ann Jr., the girl in the group with the highest standing in the community and Margaret, Ann's cousin, it unfolds a timeless story of girls who seek attention and will go to any lengths to get it.

I made a note in the middle of the book about the timeless theme, then read the author's note at the end on how she used that to help with the creation of this book - I was so pleased that I picked up on something like that (sometimes themes go over my head - I will confess I was never and English major and frequently just read books for enjoyment). Ms. Hemphill weaves this beautifully into the story. I read this in one day, never leaving it for very long at a time. I needed to know more about Ann, Mercy, Margaret and the other main players and what would happen next in the village of Salem.

If you enjoy historical young adult novels, or historical novels in general, I think you will enjoy Wicked Girls. It tells a great story of what might have happened during the days of the Salem Witch Trials from the point of view of the major players. It's a fascinating and captivating read and I am now intrigued by Ms. Hemphill's writing and will be seeking out her backlist as well.
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