The Wicked and the Just is an upcoming debut by J. Anderson Coats. It’s a historical novel for young adults set in 13th century Wales. It follows two very different girls through the book who are, in essence, exactly the same.
Cecily D’Edgeley and her father are moving house to Caernarvon, Wales. Caernarvon is occupied by the British, causing a rift between the local Welsh. The Welsh are taxed differently from the Brits and Cecily’s Father has ulterior motives for being there. While Cecily struggles to fit in with her peers (and her betters) another girl, Gwynhwyfar, struggles to be less. Gwynhwyfar is Welsh and unused to the ways of the English, including their brands of “justice”. Gwynhwyfar’s mother is dying and her brother struggles to work, so Gwynhwyfar must work for the D’Edgeley’s as a housekeeper/maid… and obey Cecily to the letter. Tension mounts and lines are drawn. It’s very clear who is on which side of the divide.
The Wicked and the Just is a great first novel. It doesn’t rely upon any tropes of the young adult genre, and, as a historical novel, stands out from the crowd. I didn’t know what to expect for the entire book. What Coats has written is a captivating, poignant book that I enjoyed very much. I had no idea what I was getting in to and I was never disappointed at any point in the book. The narrative is told from the point of view of both young women with their stories alternating each other. What I found very cool is the look of each girl’s chapters. The text is actually different for each character, which adds a subtle divide between the two.
I’m very impressed with this book. I look forward to seeing what else J. Anderson Coats has up her sleeves.
5 out of 5 stars.
* The Wicked and the Just releases April 17th, 2012.