The Wicked and the Just Book Review

“All that coined still owed, and back they’ll come at Easter. God only knows what they’ll see fit to take next.

-pg 146

The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats

This book was such a shock for me. It’s historical fiction taking place in 13th century England and focuses on the tensions between the newly conquered Welsh and the English. The story is from the point of view of two girls, one an English landowner’s daughter (Cecily) and her Welsh servant (Gwen). The little book flap talks about how Cecily moves to Caernarvon which has a large Welsh population and Gwen is her servant and they clash and I read it thinking holy crap what kind of dumb sister bonding story have I gotten myself into.

But thing was, it was nothing– nothing– like what I expected. In fact, the last thing this book is was a stupid story about people overcoming their differences.

It was much more serious. I’ll tell ya, Cecily was a bit of an idiot. She was selfish and vain and didn’t know how to consider others. Probably because she never had to, and especially because she had been raised to think that way. There’s no point in degrading her for these traits, they’re historically sensible and just the way she was. And it’s not like Gwen was better. She was cruel and you wonder how many problems she could’ve solved with proper communication. What we have in this story are two equally flawed and infuriating characters living in a time of social and political unrest. These outside factors eventually explode and change the lives of Gwen and Cecily.

From that description the books sounds mature and adult-orienteted, but it’s not. It’s historical fiction for young adults, kids. Anyone, really.

What I really appreciated about this book was the way it told a historical story with great simplicity and realism. There was no extended explanation about how people dressed or long details about what the clothes look like. No Shakespearian/slang mash-ups. I’m sure the authenticity was due to the fact that the author is a historian and thus very familiar with the time. This translated into what I can only describe as a window to the past. It felt very real and natural.

I also enjoyed the fact that the characters were not sidetracked by clichés. There is no romance here, though there seemed many a time where that would be a possibility. However, going down that path would’ve detracted from the history; it would’ve been an easy solution to the tensions between Gwen and Cecily.

This is certainly one of my shorter reviews. Overall, I enjoyed reading this and I feel like it’s the type of book that should be picked up in 4th to 9th grade classrooms for reading and discussing and learning.

Ri’s Rating:


0. Couldn’t get past chapter one for fear of wanting to kill myself. Book induced suicide…

1: Yuck. Ew. Below Average. Probably didn’t even read the middle and skipped to the end.

2. Ok. Would’ve been better if I’d written the ending and everything else.

3. Not bad at all. Very enjoyable. Quite nice. Recommendable.

4. My kind of book. Near ideal, but something was a little off (annoying names, bad ending, that sort of thing).

5. WOW. Makes me wonder why people watch T.V when this is out there. Really liked it. Don’t expect to see this often.

6 and above. What I want my book to be.

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  1. Karie Yamamoto

     /  September 13, 2012

    Hey There! Karie, speaking! Do you remember me? Are you ready for college? The hardest week of college so far is coming to an end and this book review popped up on my email. Just wanted to say “hi” and ask how you are doing. I realized that I do not have your email so I decided this was the best way to try and catch your attention from all the way down here in Atlanta. Unfortunately I have not had time to read anything at all except for textbooks and academic articles, but I hope you are still enjoying the world of fiction. Thank goodness I went fiction crazy during the summer! I have to head to GTSO now (go orchestra!!!) so I will hopefully talk to you later! Bye, Sarah!

  2. Cecily drove me crazy in the beginning, but once she finally stopped being disgusting to Gwen’s brother I was able to forgive her. Then my annoyance switched to Gwen, who is, as you said, cruel. :D

    I like that there’s no romance. It’s quite refreshing.

    I actually did notice an anachronism: Twice she says “hey” to her father, and he responds, “hay is for horses.” Really bugged me.


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