My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Wicked and the Just doesn’t have much in the way of a plot, it more focuses on the everyday lives of two very different girls in 13th century Wales, one who’s English and lives inside the walls of Caernarvon, the other a Welsh servant, who lives outside the walls, than on any particular focal point. This changes in the latter part of the book when an event that has been gnawing at the fringes suddenly erupts.
My first impression of Cecily is that she’s a colossal brat. She’s English, thinks she’s better than the Welsh (while also fearing they’re going to kill her) and her so-called “betters” as well, pouts and connives to get her father to do as she wants, complains…a lot, and doesn’t seem to like anyone other than the friends she was forced to leave behind, her father (sometimes), and her dog. But can you blame her if that’s how she was raised and didn’t know any better? My feelings about her ran the gamut, as did her behavior, it had its ups and downs as does just about anyone. She can be quite funny with her sly remarks or thoughts, but she can also be cruel, kind, loathsome, understanding, and pathetic. Everytime I thought I was about to like her, she’d do something terrible and I thought her lower than dirt, then she’d have her eyes opened to see her surroundings and then she didn’t seem so bad. It went like that quite a lot, and by the end, I felt quite bad for her. Gwinny, on the other hand, though while I didn’t like her exactly, I understood her right away and sympathized with her position. She is one angry and vengeful person, who through sheer willpower, somehow manages to hold most of it back. The sections told through her eyes are usually shorter than Cecily’s, but they get right to the point and have enough information that I didn’t feel anything necessary was excluded. The interactions between the two girls are fraught with dislike, loathing, and begrudging understanding, before it all starts over again. Until the last section the characters are the main plot, where after that point the story really explodes into a fast-paced, suspenseful read, which I’ll not spoil if you’re not familiar with that part of history (I wasn’t). You couldn’t tear this book from my hand during these last sixty pages if you tried, I was absolutely riveted. The emotions were high, the situations scary, and more than anything it made me grateful. Grateful to have a roof over my head, grateful for the food I can afford to eat, just grateful all around that I don’t have to live as the Welsh did, as many others did in the course of history. A word of warning, as with changing circumstances in life there is no concrete ending to the story, which suits the book well. It ends while just beginning and I can’t think of a more fitting finish to the story. A good, solid, thought-provoking novel that has a possible crossover appeal to both history-loving teens and adults.
Originally reviewed: September 10
Received: Amazon Vine