Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats

The Wicked and the Just
J. Anderson Coats
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Released: April 17, 2012
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 352
Source: Netgalley
Cecily’s father has ruined her life. He’s moving them to occupied Wales, where the king needs good strong Englishmen to keep down the vicious Welshmen. At least Cecily will finally be the lady of the house.

Gwenhwyfar knows all about that house. Once she dreamed of being the lady there herself, until the English destroyed the lives of everyone she knows. Now she must wait hand and foot on this bratty English girl.

While Cecily struggles to find her place amongst the snobby English landowners, Gwenhwyfar struggles just to survive. And outside the city walls, tensions are rising ever higher—until finally they must reach the breaking point.
This did start out a bit slow for me. I heard about it months ago and sort of forgot the synopsis by the time I actually picked it up. It wasn't really what I expected, but I ended up really enjoying it. Cecily and Gwenhwyfar found themselves forced into one another's worlds when Cecily's father moved them to a home in Wales where Gwenhwyfar was content to keep an empty house. Cecily immediately took issue with Gwenhwyfar, as they had very different ideas about what their roles should be.

I couldn't help but like Cecily more, because despite her often inappropriate behavior, she was mostly just a victim of ignorance. The guilt and remorse she felt throughout the book seemed very honest to me. Gwenhwyfar, on the other hand, was an extremely vengeful person. Even though she was surprised by Cecily's few acts of kindness, she had no empathy toward the hardships Cecily faced. And while I could definitely understand why Gwenhwyfar was so hardened, the emotional distance she kept prevented me from really connecting to her.

British history is something that really fascinates me, and the history of the Welsh being occupied by the English is not a historical event I know much about. However, after reading The Wicked and the Just I am very intrigued by this time, and I plan on doing some research to learn more.

I do fear that although this is a book written for teens it may not be well received by them, and that is a shame. This is not an action-driven story, and I think historical fiction is already under-appreciated in the young adult world. I, for one, will read anything this author pens as I very much appreciated the amount of research and care it takes to write a story like this.

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