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Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials

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Wicked Girls is a fictionalized account of the Salem witch trials based on the real historical characters, told from the perspective of three young women living in Salem in 1692—Mercy Lewis, Margaret Walcott, and Ann Putnam Jr.

When Ann’s father suggests that a spate of illnesses within the village is the result of witchcraft, Ann sees an opportunity and starts manifesting the symptoms of affliction. Ann looks up to Mercy, the beautiful servant in her parents' house. She shows Mercy the power that a young girl is capable of in a time when women were completely powerless. Mercy, who suffered abuse at the hands of past masters, seizes her only chance at safety. And Ann’s cousin Margaret, anxious to win the attention of a boy in her sights, follows suit. As the accusations mount against men and women in the community, the girls start to see the deadly ramifications of their actions. Should they finally tell the truth? Or is it too late to save this small New England town?

420 pages, Kindle Edition

First published June 17, 2010

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About the author

Stephanie Hemphill

8 books113 followers
Stephanie Hemphill's first novel in poems, Things Left Unsaid, was published by Hyperion in 2005 and was awarded the 2006 Myra Cohn Livingston Award for Excellence in Poetry by the Children's Literature Council of Southern California.

Her second novel, a verse portrait of Sylvia Plath, Your Own, Sylvia was published by Knopf in March 2007. A third novel in verse for teens, Wicked Girls, a verse story of the Salem witch trials, will come out from Hyperion in the spring of 2009.

Stephanie received an SCBWI Magazine Merit Award in Poetry and chaired the PEN Award's Children's Literature Committee. She has been writing, studying and presenting poetry for adults and children for many years at UCLA, the University of Illinois (where she received an award from The Academy of American Poets), with Writers at Work and at conferences across the country. Stephanie lives in Los Angeles.

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5 stars
353 (15%)
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641 (28%)
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804 (35%)
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316 (14%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 427 reviews
Profile Image for Bren fall in love with the sea..
1,562 reviews263 followers
December 3, 2020
“Why uproot
a perfectly healthy
white blazing star
from the soil
to allow room
for a roadside weed?”
― Stephanie Hemphill, Wicked Girls

I have not finished it yet but I like it. It is different.

This book is about the Salem Witch Trials, a topic I find both horrifying and fascinating. It is not the first book I have read on the subject.. far from it.

However it is the first book on this subject I have read that tells the story in verse. I did not know that when I selected it. My experience with in verse is rather limited, having read only about two or three such books in the past and when I was much younger.

At first I had a difficult time getting into it. I stuck with it though and I would urge all to do the same. I am really getting into it although it took some time. The writing is utterly fantastic and I will write a bit more when I am done.

And the cover art is magnificent.

Profile Image for Jennifer Wardrip.
Author 5 books479 followers
November 12, 2012
Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com

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.
Profile Image for Angela.
160 reviews10 followers
September 28, 2010
This is one of the few times I wish I could give half stars, because I really feel in the middle on this book.

On the one hand, I love the story. Hamphill does an excellent job with the theory that these girls kept accusing people because this was the only way they would ever have power. Powerful men were listening to the girls, servant girls were just as powerful as the merchant class. Some of Mercy's stories were almost physically painful as she described the joy of being looked at as a powerful person to be respected, rather than a pretty girl to be lusted after by the men of Salem Village. There are also some scary "mean girl" dynamics at work within the group of girls, showing just how strong peer pressure can be (of course, unlike most modern bullying cases, the bullies don't hold life-or-death accusations over the heads of their victims).

On the other hand, I'm rarely a fan of verse novels. I've found some contemporary verse novels that work well, but they never pan out well for me in historical fiction. There's just too many other things you need to describe for a contemporary reader that doesn't fit in poetry.
Profile Image for jules ⋆.ೃ࿔*:・.
122 reviews18 followers
June 6, 2022
Cross us not, for thou shalt see
be there power in not three,
but in four or six or five;
this is how we will survive.

books written in verse is such a cool concept. this is the first book i've read using that format and i enjoyed it! it makes reading a lot faster. i don't really know what this book is for, the accusers or the victims of the Salem Witch Trials. yes, they were all children and probably manipulated by adults but it doesn't change the fact that many died because of their wrongdoings. the karmas of each member at the end tho.
Profile Image for Teanna.
217 reviews53 followers
February 7, 2021
Ok I was very intrigued by the concept of this book because of how much I love the Crucible. And the idea of the book was something I could get behind. But it turned out to be more like Mean Girls and less Crucible. Which also would be okay but I drew the line at this being written in verse. Like I am not big on this writing style in general, if you are I totally respect that, but I feel like regardless of my feelings on verse style writing it just didn’t work with this story.
I guess if you like verse writing and are looking for a Mean Girls/ Crucible type book you will enjoy it but it really wasn’t for me.
Profile Image for Ashley.
101 reviews
March 5, 2023
The description of the book sounded interesting but I had a hard time staying into the book. I have read books about the Salem Witch Trials and they drew me in. Wicked Girls did not draw me in I found it boring at times and it did focus on the each character before it went to the next character.
Profile Image for Victorian  Vickie.
100 reviews10 followers
July 5, 2020
I was intrigued by the cover and title of this book. I was excited to see that it was written in prose since I have a few students who loves to read books like these. I was very thankful that the author put a list of characters at the front so I could refer back to them which I did several times. I found this story fascinating. It was about the girls who were "afflicted" and pointed out the witches in Salem. It was written from the girls perspective and how they went about finding their victims.
Profile Image for Catherine.
308 reviews33 followers
July 22, 2019
I've got to say, I'm really disappointed with this book. I made it to about 40% through the book but the character development was just really grating, and the writing style did not get easier over time. I love things relating to the Salem Witch Trials, but this one was a hard miss for me.
Profile Image for OjoAusana.
2,131 reviews
October 17, 2019
If you like reading books about the salem wtich trials this isnt bad. Its like reading a bunch of diary entries which i actually really liked. *This also reminded me of another book i love & it was easy to think of them in the same time line so that did make me like this book more*
Profile Image for Paul.
39 reviews7 followers
March 13, 2012
Were the Salem Witch Trials just a case of Mean Girls gone whack? Were the accusations and trials motivated by the need for power and recognition of adolescent girls?

Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill raises these questions in the way each character was depicted and mirrored in the thoughts Hemphill chose to give them. Of course, the cause of the trials and the extent of them will always be debated within our American history, and Hemphill chimes in with her thoughts in this uniquely written novel.

Those unfamiliar with Hemphill's work will recognize the free verse poetic style she uses-and uses well I must admit. However, it does take some getting used to. A note from my experience with this style:

*Devote a chunk of time to sit down and read. Reading this book in snippets leads to a lot of questions. The free-verse style needs to flow, and poetic flow can only be attained with greater focus.

Overall, this book was a fun excursion into poetic YA literature. It was a unique walk down memory lane of reading The Crucible in high school English class. And it was a discovery of a University of Illinois graduate and Chicago resident(?). I'd recommend this book to young people who have read and enjoyed poetic literature (i.e., Crank and Out of the Dust). I'd also recommend it to anyone interested in the early history of the United States.
Profile Image for Bethany Miller.
486 reviews35 followers
January 13, 2012
Wicked Girls is a fictionalized account of the “afflicted” girls who were responsible for the Salem Witch Trials. The point of view of this novel in verse alternates between Ann Putnam, Jr. a twelve year old girl who has high social standing in Salem Village, seventeen year old Mercy Lewis who is an orphan and a servant in the Putnam household, and seventeen year old Margaret Walcott who is Ann’s cousin but of a lower social status than Ann. The book follows the girls from the beginnings of the witch hunt, through the trials that followed, and finally into obscurity after the trials came to an end.

Much has been written, both fiction and nonfiction, about the Salem Witch Trials; however, Stephanie Hemphill’s approach to this familiar story is unique bringing into focus the girls who were responsible for creating the hysteria. Ann, Mercy and Margaret come from very different family situations and social classes, but all three share the same feelings of powerlessness and insignificance in the male dominated culture of Salem. Through their “afflictions,” they gain a level of power and fame that becomes addictive. The girls can’t seem to stop themselves – even when the first of the accused is tried and hanged. The characters seem two-dimensional in the beginning; however, Hemphill skillfully develops each of them throughout the book adding layer upon layer until they seem to be very real people. Though the setting of the book is very important, the themes of peer pressure and power amongst teen age girls are truly timeless. Wicked Girls will be a hit with fans of historical fiction, but this is also a book for any girl who has felt like she was part of the crowd one minute and an outcast the next.
Profile Image for Carrie.
278 reviews81 followers
July 13, 2010
Stephanie Hemphill uses free verse and three different character perspectives to tell a fictionalized account of the Salem witch trials in Wicked Girls. It is a fascinating take on a piece of American history about which we know many facts but not the full story. The novel opens with Mercy Lewis, a 17-year-old servant in the Putnam’s house, as she gives the reader an idea of what life in Salem Village is like: cold, little to eat, lots of distrust of others. The reader soon meets the other main characters: Ann Putnam Jr., the 12-year-old who yearns for attention, namely from her mother and Mercy, and Margaret Walcott, a 17-year-old cousin of Ann’s, with a fierce streak of jealousy....

I saw this book on display at ALA and the cover made me yearn to read it. I was so happy when a copy soon came in the mail for me. I could not put this book down! Hemphill’s portrayal is very believable. Teens will relate to the bullying, group think, and peer pressure that drives the characters...

Hemphill’s author notes in the back are thorough...

Full review at http://dogearedandwellread.wordpress....
Profile Image for Sarah.
148 reviews5 followers
September 13, 2011
Based on real people and events that took place during the Salem Witch Trials, this book is told from the point of view of three girls, ranging in age from twelve to seventeen; these are the girls that made the accusations of witchcraft. Told in free verse format, readers learn about the motivations behind the girls' "afflictions"--which led to 19 innocent people being hanged.

This book received starred reviews across the board (Booklist, School Library Journal, Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus) but I just didn't like it! Maybe it's because I listened to it? I just didn't like the characters or the way their story was told. My favorite part of the book was the note at the end that described the people upon which the characters were based. Readers who enjoyed this might also enjoy another Salem Witch Trials book Beyond the Burning Time by Kathryn Lasky.
Profile Image for Scarlet Darkwood.
Author 24 books21 followers
May 27, 2018
I loved this book. As another reader said, I'm surprised at the low ratings. Yes, it's written in verse, but it's easy to follow. I love reading about the Salem Witch Trials, though I didn't like what happened to poor innocent people. This book really gets inside the girls' heads so you know what they are thinking. The author's notes at the end are very interesting, as well. I felt fully immersed in the story, felt like I was right there with them. Good imagery. Enjoyable and wonderfully written.
Profile Image for Ennta.
12 reviews5 followers
March 17, 2013
Hemphill does an excellent job of using spare, evocative verse to set this period piece's atmosphere and sketch out her protagonists. Unfortunately, that paucity of words leaves the characters little more than stereotypes. Nevertheless, this is a quick read with a unique execution.
Profile Image for Julie Suzanne.
1,876 reviews68 followers
September 10, 2017
An interesting perspective on the Salem Witch Trials, this novel in verse was an entertaining and satisfying piece of my understanding of this crazy true story. While The Crucible told the story from John Proctor's point of view (victim) in the form of a play, this is a collection of poems that narrate the story from the point of view of the "afflicted" girls (the perpetrators). So we get a story about peer pressure, "mean girls," oppression, Puritan repression, abuse, class warfare, small town politics, and empowerment, and some actually good poetry.

Issues and audience: This was in my middle school library, and as a result of reading this, I'm moving it to the HS library. It's not particularly appropriate for middle school, but my reason for moving it is because I think it's a bit too difficult to read for my MS population. It was checked out several times in the last two years, and every single girl who borrowed it returned it unfinished, and now I know why. Young readers will probably not have been exposed to this kind of language yet (ye, thou, stuffy syntax, etc.), and I imagine that my knowledge of the actual facts of the events that took place contributed significantly to my ability to comprehend this story. I tried to imagine if I didn't know...I'd probably have been having WTF moments throughout.

he appendix items are helpful and essential; the reader learns how much is true and imagined in addition to the research practices of the author in preparation of writing.

I recommend reading Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem (History before this...the knowledge gained from it will allow readers to focus on the themes of this novel rather than wondering what the heck is going on.
Profile Image for reading_mona.
110 reviews1 follower
August 23, 2019
I stopped about 40% in. I just realized i need a different way of writing. Even though i do feel that the story will be interesting it just didnt catch me and its a drag reading it. So i decided to stop. I need more introduction of the characters in the story itself than reading in the beginning who everyone is - lets be honest who keeps going back and forth or remembers it all. It just wasnt meant for me.
Profile Image for Loveliest Evaris.
397 reviews71 followers
August 11, 2016
I was bored and didn't want to do my Race, Gender, Culture homework so I sat down next to the bookshelves at my school's library and found this book. I was daunted by the thickness of it--I don't have patience for long books anymore--but I flicked through it and was pleased that it was written in poem stanzas. That shit is easy to go through.

This is probably the first book in awhile that I read very quickly, probably because it was in such a form of storytelling. Even so, it probably took me two days which, while not an impressive record for me (I've gone through shit much faster), it's a sign I was intrigued.

Recently I've come to realize that I have a particular fandom for historical fiction pertaining to the Salem Witch Trials, or works based upon them.

Anyway, let's lay down some of my thoughts.

I'm super surprised this book is rated as low as it is. I personally enjoyed it immensely, actually. I'll read some of the reviews after writing this, don't you worry. But this is probably the first time that a book I really liked is looked at so negatively. Twilight Zoooone!

The fact that some of the characters were renamed was a little idiotic. Since I coincidentally read The Crucible prior to this I could match up the people fairly well, and the difference in attitudes between Crucible's Putnam, Proctor, Goody, Abigail, etc. and Wicked Girls's were interesting, like a retelling of a fairy tale. Yes I know Crucible is like a play and is dramaticizing the events of the Salem Witch Trials but it is basically the first one I read about this topic so it will be used as a bible when comparing other fictional works and yadda yadda.

Since I don't have the book with me I can't really articulate anything but general feelings.

First off:


Margaret, what the actual hell? Sucks that you're now under the thumb of your cheating husband but goddamn, stuck-up bitch you be!

Susannah I think is mentally retarded. Like Forrest Gump. Either that or has Down's Syndrome because there's no way someone who is 17 would be that stupid.

Elizabeth was a poor sweetheart. She went along with it and was kind of a kicked puppy throughout the whole thing which isn't completely bad but I could see she felt extremely guilty when she realized what she along with the other girls had actually been doing so I forgive her.

Mercy was difficult. She had reservations but then tried to take the lead in the accusations then stepped away and said "No, no more" then continued then faltered back and forth back and forth. Felt bad that she was treated like shit by Ann's Mum, that shrew..

Again what the hell is up with Ann? She seriously is psychotic. She's around Mercy like a lapdog 24/7 but has no qualms about killing Mercy's dog. She blended her own delusions and lies together so oddly that I truly didn't know when she was faking it and when she wasn't. Crafty little bitch I'll give her that.

Abigail played a different role than the one in The Crucible but whatever.

I was rooting for these girls to be stopped but of course this is a take on something that actually happened so it didn't.

These people were truly stupid. How is it possible that Satan could have the much of a hold on people who were pious Christians? What is this, 1984 with thoughtcrime? Just hit them in the head with a Bible. Make them destroy a cross. The very idea of it would probably make the accused witches puke their kidneys out.

Yeah that's basically all I have to say.
Profile Image for Emily Wrayburn.
Author 5 books40 followers
June 6, 2014
Okay, a confession: I’m not really a poetry person. I’m all right if it rhymes, and I can even sort of get behind it if I can register some sort of meter. But free verse just confuses me; I just sit there wondering why the prose has so many line breaks. (Okay, I can appreciate it a bit more than that sentence implies, but I would still rather just read it in a series of paragraphs.) So when I realised Wicked Girls was an entire novel written in verse, I wasn’t immediately sure I would continue reading it. But it kinda grew on me.

Wicked Girls is the first in a series of books centred around the Salem Witch Trials that I’m probably going to read. I just finished a production of The Crucible a couple of weeks ago, and now I’m kinda hooked on that time and place in history (and totally not ready to let go of the production yet, either, if I’m honest). Hemphill tell the story of the trials from the points-of-view of three of the “afflicted” girls who testified against the “witches”: Mercy Lewis, Margaret Walcott and Ann Putnam Jr. Mercy and Margaret are both 17, while Ann Putnam is only 12. All three discover that in their restrictive, Puritan world, being able to point out who is doing the Devil’s work gives these otherwise ignored girls a real taste of power and a chance to right wrongs they feel have been done in the town.

The thing that drew me into this book was the group dynamics. The main group of girls create a clique; others are let in or thrown out, basically on their whims. Poor little Abigail, who is presented by Hemphill as someone who is very keen to help but who maybe talks a bit too much, is literally treated like a dog by Ann (being told to “sit” and “stay”) but she complies because it is a better option than being treated like she doesn’t exist. (Note: I played Abigail in the aforementioned production, so I have a bit of an attachment to her in any incarnation).

As I said earlier, I’m not a poetry person, but the verse format did lend itself to tinging the entire story with an underlying sadness. Mercy longs to avenge her parents, who were killed in the French-Indian wars. Margaret is engaged to Isaac Farrar, but convinced he has eyes for Mercy, and is consumed by the resulting jealousy. Ann wants to please her mother and father, but most of all just wants Mercy to be her friend. Ann, who positions herself as the queen bee of the group, is the last one to continue testifying in the trials. The others gradually realise their mistakes, and after watching innocent people hanged, no longer wish to go on with their accusations. Ann, being younger, does not fully comprehend the things their actions are causing, and doesn’t understand when her friends (or the closest things she has to friends) abandon her. Even though she acts like a spoiled brat for most of the book, I still felt just as sorry for her by the end.

As far as I could tell from what I know of the Witch Trials (I’m still learning!), the events described were all historically accurate,though sometimes embellished. Stephanie Hemphill is also the author of Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath. I may not be a huge fan of poetry, but I take my hat off to anyone who can take real people and reveal their lives in this format.
Profile Image for Katelyn.
213 reviews43 followers
July 29, 2010
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.

I found my first experience with Hemphill's writing to be surprising and very dramatic. She has an amazing ability to bring out feelings and overall portrays the haunting words of the three girls like no one else I've seen or read could. I may not be a historical fiction convert but I was entertained the whole way through.
Profile Image for Brooke.
116 reviews6 followers
August 10, 2010
Set in 1692, Wicked Girls, takes a peek into the lives of three teenage girls living in Salem, Massachusetts during the Salem witch trials. The girls' fun and games turn serious when the town folk and families think they have been afflicted, and begin to take their word in who the witches are in Salem. The girls live for the popularity that being "afflicted" has brought them, because now people listen to them and their lives have meaning. The only problem with their actions...it is hard to come clean once the lies have gone on so long.

I loved the idea of Wicked Girls at first glance. When I received the book I didn't know that it was written in verse, so that was a pleasant surprise. That pleasant surprise ended up not working for me at all. I felt that a lot was left to be desired about the girls, and I couldn't get a good grasp on their personalities. The verse itself was nicely written, but it lacked the detail needed to move the story along.

Of all the characters the only stand out is Ann Putnam Jr. who is the leader of the afflicted and a total brat. It is hard to believe that 18 year old girls would take orders and follow a 12 year old. I guess when you've reached "celebrity status" in a small town where you are usually ignored it is hard to quit pretending and lies.

Even though Wicked Girls is written in verse, it feels LONG. Usually when I read a novel in verse I can flow right through it and feel fulfilled at the end. Wicked Girls ends kind of abruptly and left me feeling lost. It felt like Hemphill wasn't sure exactly where to end it, even though the ending was, most likely, purposely done this way.

The great thing about the book is that it is based on actual girls from the Salem witch trials, and the people accused in the book were actual people during the trials. Taking these girls and their victims and putting a spin on it, was a great idea. It is obvious that there was a lot of research done for this novel, and I look forward to what Hemphill has in store for us in the future.
Profile Image for Tasha.
4,117 reviews103 followers
August 17, 2010
Through gripping verse, the story of the Salem Witch Trials is told from the point of view of several of the accusers themselves. A fictionalized account, the book captures the lies and hysteria of Salem in 1692, embracing the theory that the girls were deliberately telling lies. There is Ann Putnam, Jr. who leads the group of girls despite the fact she is 12 and others in the group are 17. She is the daughter of a prominent man in Salem. Her servant, Mercy Lewis, is also an accuser. Beautiful and tempting to many, she finds a haven in accusing others of witchcraft. Ann’s cousin, Margaret Walcott, is a girl in love and struggling to hold onto the boy. Her beloved will not stand for the accusations, so she is torn between her friends and her heart. These three girls form the center of the novel, each making accusations for different reasons, each lie leading to another, until nineteen people are killed in the name of piety.

Hemphill’s poems are beautifully constructed, they lend depth to the book at the same time they manage to move the story forward. Each girl has a distinct personality and perspective that comes through in the poems. The author weaves symbolism of the time into the poems, always making sure that these are girls of that period who have the concerns and sensibilities of that time. Yet at the same time, modern girls will understand the aches of love, the power of lies, and the group dynamics that are inherent here.

Hemphill tells the story from the girls’ points of view, allowing readers to see into their thought patterns and what drove them to do it. This perspective makes the book particularly gripping and powerful. She also frames the poems with the seasons, capturing each turn of the season in a poem. Each of these separate poems that is not one from a girl’s view has a decorative corner on the page, marking them as separate. It is a subtle and important touch.

This is a powerful book that speaks to a horrific time in Salem and is told in verse that illuminates all. Appropriate for ages 13-15.
Profile Image for Angie.
2,332 reviews227 followers
December 17, 2014
The Salem Witch Trials is a strange time in American History, but it’s one that I find utterly fascinating and would love to learn more about. Wicked Girls is focused on three young girls who became the most prolific accusers at the time, even if their claims were not set entirely in truth. This is a fictionalized account of real events, and I thought the verse format was a good choice for it. Often times historical fiction–especially those written on real events–tend to be slow and sometimes feel drawn out. This was definitely not the case for Wicked Girls, which covers a year of the trials. It starts out innocently enough with a few girls playing at telling each others fortunes. Then a death symbol appears and two of the girls become “afflicted.” In a time when fits were often associated with the devil, the girls are quick to point at an Invisible World where witches are tormenting them.

Once the first stone is cast, the girls cannot stop for fear of being called liars and losing their new found status. They essentially become an elite clique, almost like the Gossip Girl of the late 1600s. The villagers look up to them to identify the witches, but they also fear being wrongly accused by them. I think the author did a great job showing how clique behavior was very much present in the 17th century despite being typically thought of as a modern day occurrence. Like any clique, the girls eventually start to turn on each other or want to leave the group. This is the only aspect of Wicked Girls that I wish had been explored more or even exaggerated a bit. They held an awful lot of power during the trials, so I thought it would have been a great twist if one of the girls had called out one of their own as a witch. However, it seems like the author stuck pretty closely to the true story, which is fine, but I would have liked a little more out of it in the end.

Read more of my reviews at Pinkindle Reads & Reviews.
Profile Image for Corinne.
1,032 reviews2 followers
June 13, 2013
A book of poems told from the point of view of three of the girls who accused so many of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusatts: the girl who is ignored and unloved by her family, the beautiful servant girl who finds safety using their lies, and the girl desperately and jealously in love with a man whose eyes are always roving.
With the recent trend of novels in poetry, I'm always a bit skeptical of authors who have chose this medium--are they making good use of it, or is it done in the place of originality? Not only does the author make good use of language capture the trauma and hopelessness of the lives of these girls, but impressibly juggles three first person narratives in poetry while keeping each voice distinct.
I liked how she dug into history to find plausible reasons each girl would lie. They all have no voice and no power until they seize on this idea, and when they all do it together they create a group that is strong and united against all the things that used to hurt them. Mercy witnessed the brutal murder of her parents and has lived as a servant ever since, being pawed at by men and harshly beaten until she becomes a "seer", and therefore an almost holy object in her community. Margaret finds a way to have power over the women her betrothed is eyeing, and escape from her horrible stepmother. Ann is the queen bee, who finally has the attention of her parents, the respect of the servant she worships, and the ear of the community.
The balance of power is interesting to watch as the girls handle various crises that may unmask their lies. Friendships are broken and mended as they rely on each other through different hardships. Different girls take the lead as they are forced to escalate things in order to keep their story going. When is it too late to tell the truth?

Book Quote:
"My hands quiver as the old
and bedridden. Give me
the strength to lead,
for I fear otherwise
we may hang
ourselves." Mercy (256) (at a witch hanging)
November 18, 2013
Wicked Girls a novel of the Salem witch trials by Stephanie Hemphill is an amazing book. It is a perfect book for anyone who loves to read about teenage drama and a good story about a struggle for power and control. Wicked Girls is told from the perspective of three girls Margaret, Ann, and Mercy. Each girl has their own moment where they are the main character, and in control of the group. These girls are “afflicted” by the witches in the community, and soon started calling out names of these so called witches. As the story unfolds you get to meet some other girls that join the group, and watch the power struggle between the three main girls. The whole book keeps you wondering as to who will be in power first and who will be the next to get kicked out of the group or brought into the group. There is also a love triangle in the book between two of the main characters, Margaret and Mercy, and Isaac. Isaac is supposed to marry Margaret but yet he continues to flirt with Mercy, all while trying to get with Margaret. Throughout the story you learn secrets about each characters life. Each character has something to hide whatever it is attention, a want for a mothers love, an improper action with a guy, or hiding the abuse that you receive daily. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone, just be prepared to get a glimpse into the wicked world of teenage girls trying to fit in and rule their community.
Profile Image for Jordan.
94 reviews40 followers
October 20, 2019
To be completely honest, I knew that I wasn't going to love this. When I read this a few years ago, I only rated it three stars and I couldn't really remember much about it. It's also written in verse, which is a format that I'm not all that familiar with.

Overall, the plot was interesting and the fact that it was written in the point of the afflicted, aka the girls who accused innocent people of witchcraft, made me intrigued. However, I grew frustrated quite quickly since what was happening was a classic case of peer pressure and bullying. I just wanted to shake some sense into the girls. While I did feel bad for them to a certain extant, since they started acting the way they did to gain a voice and status in their community, I felt worse for the innocent people who were bullied and tortured into confessing that they were witches.

The writing was really good, especially since Hemphill used the language and grammar of the seventeenth century, which made the novel a bit more atmospheric. However, nothing about this book wowed me and I can tell that I'm going to forget about the plot again very quickly.

If you're interested in a quick read about the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 or a book written in verse, you might be interested in this. Just be prepared to get frustrated quickly.
Profile Image for Faye.
116 reviews130 followers
September 23, 2010

I've always been interested in the Salem Witch trials. It was one of my favorite topics in class. So i knew that I would be interested in this book, it's written beautifully in verse. It was a little slow paced/long at times.

I like how Hemphill stayed true to the characters, with the actual girls and the actual victims the girls accused during the trials. Hemphill brings the characters to life, created voices for girls. I really wanted to know what was going on inside of their young naive minds, when there were going accusing these innocent people. I really don't know how these girls could...live with themselves...with all those lies. They were completely selfish.

The characters were portrayed really well, But i still wanted to know more about them, in the end somehow i wanted this story to end differently(with the Hangings). I wanted more of this story...I just feel like something was missing. Wicked Girls was definitely interesting and thought provoking...you really get a glimpse of what it was like during the Salem Witch Trial trials.Sometimes, it was almost like you were there. It really enjoyed it and look forward to reading more of Stephanie Hemphill books!
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