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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: 8.7 x 6.5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #783,937 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

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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I enjoyed this book, although it felt like it took me forever to read.
Brianna Soloski
I highly recommend it for young adult readers as well as anyone interested in this period of history.
Linda S.
She was a spoiled brat most of the time and really there wasn't much to like about her.
Dark Faerie Tales

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 Brittany Moore VINE VOICE on January 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
We've all heard about the witches in Salem's Witch Trials. We've all heard the names of the girls' who accused. Now we get a fictional insight into the young girls' minds. Told in verse alternating between the voices of three of the girls, this is a great story about what was going on in their lives and what or who made them act the way they did.

I really enjoyed this book. I am very fascinated by the Salem Witch Trials, as well as other accounts of witches being wrongfully(or rightfully) accused and persecuted. It was a nice change of pace to hear the story of the Trials from the perspective of the girls who were doing the accusing. Margaret, is mostly thinking about the boy she desperately wants to be with, while also trying to stay in Ann's mind. Ann is only 12 and obsessed with trailing her maid Mercy around. Though Mercy says to give Ann power, Ann always looks to Mercy for their next move. Each girl seems to have a different motive in acting afflicted, and the parents are of no help. Some of the girls are rueful, while other don't realize that anything is truly wrong until it's too late. I loved the voices of the girls and how you could see the age and class difference between them and the way that these girls think. If you have any interest in the Salem Witch Trials, make sure you check this out.

First Line:
"Silent, not even the twitter of insects."

Favorite Line:
"A terrible screech sounds,
like a thousand birds crying
all at once."
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