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THE WICKED AND THE JUST by J. Anderson Coats Kirkus Star


by J. Anderson Coats

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: April 17th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-547-68837-4
Publisher: Harcourt

Two girls of very different degree are brought together unwillingly by the English conquest of Wales.

Cecily is in a pet at having to leave the home of her youth—where her mother is buried—and relocate to the Welsh frontier, but her father is a younger son. He will take a burgage in Caernarvon, recently conquered by Edward I. In exchange for a home, he will help to keep the King's peace. Cecily hates Caernarvon. She hates its weather, its primitive appointments and its natives, especially Gwinny, the servant girl who doesn't obey, and the young man who stares at her. It would be easy to dismiss this book as a Karen Cushman knockoff; Cecily's voice certainly has a pertness that recalls Catherine, Called Birdy. But there's more of an edge, conveyed both in the appalling ease with which Cecily dismisses the Welsh as subhuman and in Gwinny's fierce parallel narrative. "I could kill the brat a hundred different ways." Never opting for the easy characterization, debut author Coats compellingly re-creates this occupation from both sides. It all leads to an ending so brutal and unexpected it will take readers' breath away even as it makes them think hard about the title.

Brilliant: a vision of history before the victors wrote it. (historical note) (Historical fiction. 12 & up)