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The Wicked and the Just

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  2,088 ratings  ·  469 reviews
This powerful historical fiction debut, set in medieval Wales, follows Cecily whose family is lured by cheap land and the duty of all Englishman to help keep down the “vicious” Welshmen, and Gwenhwyfar, a Welsh girl who must wait hand and foot on her new English mistress. As issues of prejudice, heritage, and occupation come to a head, both girls have to find a way to surv ...more
Hardcover, 345 pages
Published April 17th 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,088 ratings  ·  469 reviews

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Feb 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Tatiana by: Kirkus
Shelves: ya, historical, 2012
As seen on The Readventurer.

How much do you know about Wales? 13th century Wales? Invasion of Wales by England?

Nothing? Do not fret, neither did I before reading The Wicked and the Just. I can claim to know a little tiny bit about the history of tension between Scotland and England, thanks to Diana Gabaldon and the tidbits of historical information she puts in between hunky Jamie Fraser's kilted adventures in Outlander books. But about Wales I knew absolutely nothing. Now I can thank J. Anderson
Emily May
Nov 07, 2011 rated it really liked it

I'm so sorry that this review has taken me forever and a day to write, I truly hate it when real life swoops in and drops a bunch of university essays on my head and also a dash of relationship drama... but, alas, it happens. It took me about two weeks to read this book and that doesn't in any way reflect on the quality of it - it's just that spare time and I haven't seen much of each other recently. I actually enjoyed The Wicked and the Just immensely.

On the surface this seemed an awful lot
Feb 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
“I see it in your face, Gwenhwyfar. And believe me, I’m sorely tempted to let you, but by God, we are not animals, no matter how many times they say as much.”

Wow, this book was not what I expecting.
For a start, I seemed to have got it into my head that this was set in the Victorian times (don’t ask why, I have no idea!) and secondly, I thought it was a murder mystery (again, I have no idea).
I’ve told you before that I have a strange habit of reading synopses for books, ignoring them and j
Mar 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Noelle by: Jo
Shelves: 2012-favorites
4.5 stars
When I saw that Netgalley described this book as a combination between Catherine, Called Birdy and Braveheart, I promptly elbowed everyone out of the way to get to a computer and press "request". I'm so glad I did.

It's true, I have a soft spot for medieval smartasses and Cecily, one of the protagonists, indeed reminds me of Birdy with her acerbic wit and sometimes spiteful sense of humor. Over-dramatic and spoiled, Cecily is sure her life is over once her father moves the family to Wal
Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead
Read my review here...

or below...

What an interesting book. Seriously! I don't know if it was the alternating POV between Gwinny and Cecily, the violence and poverty, or the setting that kept me reading but I'm sure glad I did.

The Characters ARE the Story

You have two young women, living two different lives, but in the same place. It's a very simple story but it is surrounded by prejudices, violence, poverty, abuse, privilege and power.

Cecily is a spoiled an
Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

Surprisingly enough, quality YA historical fiction is hard to find. Unsurprisingly, when one does finally show up, it does not go unnoticed. The Wicked and the Just is a splendid debut, thoroughly researched and gorgeously written. Despite the overwhelming grimness, there is just enough hope shining through to make it bearable. If stories were people, I’d say this one is a lionheart.

Caernarvorn in 1294 was a great place to live – as long as you were English.*

The Wicked and the Just takes pl
Feb 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Going in blind on this one really did pay off. The sometimes self-deceiving, spoiled brat of a daughter that was Cecily could be in turns exasperating, annoying then fascinating. Because really how could she even claim to have had played no part in what was going on (specifically, in what her Gwinny had suffered)? She was exasperating and annoying in how stuck she was in feeling entitled to so many things. Yet, fascinating too because when the moment called for it, she did open her eyes. And suc ...more
Oct 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves language, history, and beautiful explorations of the human condition
Recommended to Telemachus by: It called to me from the bookshelf...
Normally I enjoy writing reviews, but it's bittersweet this time, because I'm not ready to close THE WICKED AND THE JUST, not eager to intone its requiem.

Beautiful from beginning to end, the tale grows in seasons, winning the reader with new tenor at each turn--jocose, playful, biting, disquieting, unexpected, tearful. Coats writes with a style and diction that will lose some, I'm sure, but only to more greatly win over others who cherish TH White, Defoe, and the like. There is an aesthetic qual
“God is indeed merciful to sinners.”

Cecily’s world has just ended. Edgeley Hall, the beloved manor that was once to become hers, is now property of her Uncle Robert. Now, Cecily must move to Caernarvon, a beautiful castle in occupied Wales where Cecily will become the lady of the house. Little does Cecily know that the home she is to occupy would have once been the house of a different lady, if only the circumstances were not what they were. Gwen should rightly be the lady of Caernarvon, but
Kell Andrews
May 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: debut-authors
A gripping story of a 1293 Wales with two strong-willed, but deeply flawed main characters -- displaced Cecily, who longs for her genteel English home but has accompanied her burgess father to the walled castle town of Caernarvan, and her angry, wounded servant Gwenhwyfar, whose own father was hanged and left to rot on the castle wall for fighting against the English king. J. Anderson Coats conveys the history very vividly. More remarkably, she made me care for two adversarial characters who wer ...more
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
The final fifty pages of this book had me contradictorily unwilling to finish and anxious for resolution to several characters I was invested in. The Wicked and the Just is a very character-driven novel, but thankfully, both Cecily and Gwenhwyfar are both more than capable of bearing the weight of this 350 page novel. Though this is in the mid-300's, this reads both easily and quickly due to the complimentary and contrasting natures of both main character's narratives. Full review to follow but ...more
Mar 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
This review originally appeared on Clear Eyes, Full Shelves

FNL Character rating: The contentious relationship between Tyra Collette and Lyla Garrity.

“To the Victor Belong the Spoils” and “Winner Takes All” are common sayings. It makes sense on some levels. Someone wins, someone loses. Winner takes, loser gives. In the context of Monopoly, it’s all fun and games. But what about when it comes to occupying someone’s land in real life? Or taking over their culture? Stripping them or their home? And
Jul 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Afton Nelson
Aug 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
The real brilliance behind this book is the way the author takes a completely repellant main character and makes me care for her. But she doesn't stop there. She takes a tragic character, and makes her just a tad repellant. But neither girl can be summed up so simply. Both Cecily and Gwenhwyfar are complicated and difficult and even though at times I hated them both, I found reasons to justify their nastiness, to forgive them, and to continue reading about them. Based on the Welsh uprising at Ca ...more
Mar 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
If you are crazy for the past, The Wicked And The Just by J. Anderson Coats will set your history senses tingling. Taking place in medieval Wales, The Wicked And The Just is a magnificent read about two girls – one a stranger in a strange land, the other is a refugee in her own country after her family loses everything after the English take over Wales.

Read the rest of my review here
MaryannC. Book Freak
I will say that this was very well written and interesting. A story of justice and vengeance. Cecily is a strong young woman filled with sassiness and wit who sees the injustice and tries in her own way to right some of the wrongs of her community.
Mar 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Full review can be found here.

Something that I think will be very important to take into account with this book is that it will not be for everyone: neither character is particularly likeable; there’s not very much action and everything is very slow-burning; sometimes the narrative is on the jumpy side as it passes from one scene to another with no warning; etc.

It was perfect for me.

One of my favourite books is Warrior Daughter by Janet Paisley. It chronicles the life of a Celtic warrior queen a
Cover Blurb: I like how the early morning light also looks like fire, and displays the girl’s silhouette. Except, I’ll admit, every time I glance at the cover, I always, always assume that she’s carrying a flashlight. The title font is beautiful; it is what originally caught my attention, if I’m to be honest.

What I Liked: Gwenhwyfar is a good protagonist. Some would say that she’s a jerk, but given the oppression she and her fellow Welshmen have suffered at the hands of the English, it is very h
Oct 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Teens 13+, fans of historical fiction, middle/high school/college level history courses
The Wicked and the Just is a brilliant and fascinating account of the tumultuous time when the English sought to rule Wales, told from the POVs of two teenage girls, Cecily (English) and Gwenhwyfar (Welsh). Beyond the staggering amount of historical research that is seamlessly and vividly woven into this book, J. Anderson Coats provides us with a world so real you'll feel your stomach growl with hunger, and two fascinating main characters who are alternately humorous, heartbreaking, endearing, h ...more
Aug 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
Tightly written, impeccably researched tale of the conflict between the dispossessed Welsh and the conquering English in and around the walled city of Caernarvon during the reign of Edward I. I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of the two young women - the English girl whose father takes advantage of financial and social incentives to occupy the restless city, and Gwenhwyfar, whose family has lost almost everything as a result of that occupation. The disparate voices of the two first-person POVs ...more
Jan 21, 2013 rated it liked it
I just kept hoping that there would be one character who would display some signs of love, kindness, real friendship. There were moments where different characters would exhibit basic human decency, but it was all too rare. I mean, maybe that's how vicious it really was, in which case, Wales in the 1200s was a really, really awful time and place to live. ...more
Apr 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: blog
I liked this, I liked this a lot!

I write for a blog and I reviewed this book on there, so if you want to see more of my thoughts, it'd be lovely if you could check it out! :D
Caroline Rose
Astounding. One sentence debut review closer to release date.
The MC was annoying (and SO SO SO RUDE), and idk, it was just eh
Small Review
Originally posted on Small Review blog.

Why I considered DNF-ing

The beginning of this book is so slow. Not much happens, and I'm very impatient. It's all written with a bunch of old-timey words thrown in and while this definitely did help establish the historical backdrop, sometimes I had absolutely no clue what was being said.

The book opens with Cecily's first person POV, and she is a complete brat. She's always thinking something awful about the people around her, she pouts, throws fits, and
Mar 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Wales, 13th century.

Cecily’s life used to be perfect with her father as the lord of Edgeley Hall and she, the future lady of the house with great marriage prospects. But then her uncle – the rightful owner of Edgeley Hall – returns from the Crusades and Cecily and her father must make their life elsewhere. Attracted by the prospect of tax breaks and a free life as a burgess, her father decides to move them to the walled town of Caernarvon, in the recently English-occupied Wales. Cecily is comple
Alison (AlisonCanRead)
Apr 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrenyalit
Are you a die hard historical fiction fan? Do you like immersing yourself in a very foreign world, be it realistic fiction or fantasy? If so, you will enjoy The Wicked and the Just.

Set in 13th century England and Wales, The Wicked and the Just is heavy historical fiction. By that I mean that the setting and the time period are main characters of the novel. Most of the story is not plot heavy, until the end when things really start happening. This can be frustrating to someone who does not like
Jun 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
From LJ write-up. I am really running out of steam. Not reading steam, but sitting at the computer and saying anything about the reading steam. Though this wasn't an easy read, either. Somehow or other I'd got the impression that this was historical fantasy, and once I got over that, I still had the idea it was more -- lighthearted. Not fluff, but not quite the tragic, bloody, slice of history I should have known it would be. Caernarfon, Wales, 1293, that setting.

The book is told in alternating
Mar 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
3.5/3.75 stars.

Have you ever read a character you positively despised from the get go? Well, Cecily was that character when I first started reading this book. She was self-absorbed, pretentious, vindictive, cruel, manipulative, whiny, and downright mean at times. The perfect definition of a snotty brat. There were many times when I wanted to strangle her or scream at her for being so ridiculous and obnoxious, petty, and just so unreasonable! Ugh.

But let’s not just pile on her. The other half of
Dawn Vanniman
Oct 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I received this ARC as an e-book from

I know what you're all thinking - 'Seriously, this book isn't out until APRIL?!' Seriously. BUT I believe that this book is good enough that you need to pre-order it NOW. You'll thank me in April.

The story is told from the point of view of two very different girls. There's Cecily who's English and Gwenhwyfar (Gwinny) who's Welsh. It's set during the time that the English tried to rule Wales, so about 1293 (I believe).

Cecily's father was onc
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J. Anderson Coats has received two Junior Library Guild awards and earned starred reviews from Kirkus, School Library Journal, the Horn Book Review, and Shelf Awareness. Her newest books are Spindle and Dagger, a historical YA set in medieval Wales that deals with power dynamics and complicated relationships, and The Green Children of Woolpit, a creepy middle-grade fantasy inspired by real histori ...more

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