fiction / historical fiction

Salem Mean Girls by Sylvia Prince

Salem

I don’t read a lot of YA books but I do love a teen drama and was a history major so Salem Mean Girls was right up my alley. Basically, a remake of the movie Mean Girls (with a dash of Heathers and Pretty Little Liars thrown in) it reimagines the story of Cady (in the book she is Cavie) who moves from London to Virginia with her slightly odd, artsy parents to Salem at the time of the Salem Witch Trials. She enrolls in high school, which she had never really attended due to being homeschooled and coming from a different type of school system in England. There she meets a quirky girl named Joy who says though she was born into a Puritan family, she wasn’t one herself. She also meets the first set of popular mean girls (the Glass Girls, a nod to the Plastics of Mean Girls fame) that she’s ever encountered. The lead girl is Ann, a member of a prominent Puritan family. Joy encourages Cavie to spy on the group when they ask Cavie to join them at lunch and other activities which turn out to include witchcraft in the woods and shopping for bonnets. (On Wednesdays they wear pink bonnets, natch) Soon the girls are stricken by curses and only Joy and Cavie don’t believe the girls, especially when Ann, who had been happy just being dramatic about her friends taken ill is stricken by curses as well. What’s worse, she claims that the names of those who cursed them magically appeared in the Buring Book, a colonial era version of a Burn Book that doubles as a spell book. Of course, Tituba, the West Indian slave is on the list. Anyone who knows anything about the trials knows what happens next. Cavie does her best to stop it but things get quickly out of hand.

The book was very fast paced, pretty fun and while there were some (I think purposeful) anachronisms in the language, the setting was great and the characters fleshed out. One quibble: you can’t knit a quilt, which a small detail but stood out to me.

Loved the scene of Cavie trying to dye her bonnet pink using red stockings and her shock at the wild farm party she went to where all of the Puritan teenagers were dressed in the latest fashions and hairstyles instead of their usual drab clothes. Definitely, worth a read, it would make a great plane or beach book.

 

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