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The Wicked and the Just

The Wicked and the Just

Yes, folks, it’s true: J. Anderson Coats—or Jillian to those of us in the know—has been awarded a THIRD starred review for her phenomenal YA debut, THE WICKED AND THE JUST! Here’s what School Library Journal had to say about the book:

Set in 13th-century North Wales 10 years after the English takeover, this is an instantly gripping story of injustice spawned by subjugation. Cecily, an English girl, tells readers from the outset that her life has been ruined now that she has been uprooted to live among “savages,” as she calls the Welsh. Gwenhwyfar is a servant to Cecily, who assumes that she is to be the lady of the house and demands to be treated accordingly. Gwinny resents Cecily, referring to her throughout her narrative as “the Brat.” Fleshed-out, multidimensional characters breathe life into this little-known period. Coats’s cinematic prose immerses readers in medieval life as she vividly depicts the animosity between the Welsh and the English. Though both young teens are strong and opinionated, they feel victimized, and their determination and will to survive are clearly voiced. While Cecily is cruel to Gwinny at times, she also expresses occasional compassion for her and intercedes anonymously to help her and her family. Even in her haughtiness, Cecily disdains her father’s fawning to impress those in power and is disapproving when he reduces promised wages to Welshmen by half. Gwinny also shows some compassion for Cecily when she saves her from a potentially bad match with a scoundrel. This debut novel reverberates with detail, drama, and compassion. The appended historical note is helpful; it’s unfortunate that there is no glossary of unusual terms. Fans of Karen Cushman’s The Midwife’s Apprentice (1995) and Catherine, Called Birdy (1994, both Clarion) will surely be drawn to this unique story.–Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ

Hooray, Jillian!