Leaving everything behind that she loves, Cecily travels with her father to the countryside of Wales. Her father, a younger brother, has no hopes of inheriting the beautiful land where Cecily has spent her life. With the promise of low taxes and land, her father is lured to the recently settled land of the Welsh. However, the Welsh in the late thirteenth century are chafing under the strict rules and taxes the newly settled English are forcing upon them.
Cecily isn’t happy. She wants to be in charge of her own house, but her father still looks at her as a little girl, and the woman in charge of their house, scoffs at her. Worst of all is the servant girl, Gwinny – as Cecily calls her – with her clear distain for the new English girl. Cecily has no idea that Gwenhwyfar’s family once held claim to some of the same land now occupied by the English.
Life isn’t easy for the Welsh, but as a famine begins to wear away at everyone, the differences between the Welsh and English are exacerbated. Cecily delights in abusing her power over one Welsh boy, not knowing he is actually Gwenhwyfar’s brother. Gwenhwyfar has a hard time seeing Cecily as anything more than a brat come to reek more havoc on her already stressful and harrowing existence.
The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats is a detailed look at the lives of the haves and the have not’s during the late Middle Ages. At times the reader will wonder if these two girls will ever reach a common ground, and if so, at what cost?
Recommended for 8th grade and up due to the complicated vocabulary used to depict life at this time. A great read for anyone interested in historical fiction, especially set in the Middle Ages.