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The Wicked and the Just

The Wicked and the Just is a YA historical fiction novel by J. Anderson Coats.

Cecily desperately wants to return home to her beloved Edgeley Hall, where her father was lord of the manor and they were well-off. But he has ruined her life by uprooting them to Caernarvon, English occupied Wales, where he can provide them a household, though a lesser one, for almost nothing.

Her only consolation is that, if all goes well, Cecily can be lady of the house. It would please her to be able to control the goings-ons of the servants.

Gwenhwfar has dreamed of being the lady of the house as well – that is, before the English came and destroyed everything. Now she has to perform every demeaning activity asked of her and struggle to feed her brother, her mother – everybody. And her mistress is Cecily, the girl who is in the position she ought to have been.

This is the story of the tensions growing in Wales and how they must finally reach a breaking point…

I had a difficult time with The Wicked and the Just. This was primarily because I found the characters so very unlikable.

Cecily is rude, spoiled, unthinking, and selfish. Though she shows some more kind moments later on, it was a little-too-little, a little-too-late for me to warm to the story. Also, Gwenhwfar is so embittered and hateful – even if it is understandable - that she is even hard to care for.

The Wicked and the Just is an interesting, never boring, story based on true events in the late 1200s. The politics and disturbing racism and prejudice are portrayed well – disturbing and affective. My problem was I didn’t have anyone to root for. I just didn’t really like anybody.

Injustice and medieval anger dominate this unhappy, rather depressing book. So, though The Wicked and the Just is not necessarily a bad book at all – I think it was written well and served the purpose I believe the author tried to convey – it was just far more unpleasant for me than I prefer. Even if a book is about a sad, upsetting situation – I need something to hang on to. And here, I didn’t find it.

I encourage you to check it out, especially if you are a historical fiction lover – but don’t expect a cheerful read.

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