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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Release Date: Feb. 7, 2012
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: Purchased
Pages: 272
Buy: Amazon / Book Depository / Fountain Bookstore
Description: Goodreads
Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they're witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship--or an early grave.

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with six months to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word... especially after she finds her mother's diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family's destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate stars scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren't safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood -- not even from each other.
I have not heard one bad thing about Born Wicked, and I know the reason why.  It’s because it’s a beautifully written and perfectly paced story full of engaging characters, heart-wrenching romance, and just the right bit of magic.  It feels simultaneously familiar and original, taking recognizable supernatural elements and adding the alternate historical timeline to twist things up a bit.

In this version of 1890’s New England where a group of men called The Brotherhood rules with an iron fist and women in general are considered to be lesser beings, Cate Cahill and her sisters Maura and Tess do their best to hide in plain sight, all the while keeping their witchcraft a secret from everyone but themselves.  

Their oft-absent father decides to hire a governess to ease them back into society, as they’ve been largely out of the public eye since the death of their mother years before.  Cate’s intention ceremony date is looming ever closer, her friend Paul McLeod is back in town after years away at school and ready to make her an offer she might not want to refuse, and the new gardener/former classmate Finn Belastra is causing both her head and heart to race in ways she doesn’t quite understand.  Secrets pile up left and right, not only for Cate but for her sisters, her new governess, and her friends as well.  Just when you think you know what’s coming… well, that’s when things get interesting.  With feathers.

I really like Cate’s voice.  Jessica said on the Breathless Reads tour that she was inspired to write a book about independent women living in a society that didn’t value independence, which definitely comes through in Cate.  She’s very modern, very stubborn, and very engaging.  I think the sisterly dynamic is right on the nose, especially for Maura.  Oh, she’s got Middle Sister Syndrome worse than Jan Brady.  I also like the way the love “triangle” is shown: as a battle to choose with her head or choose with her heart.  You can’t fault Paul for trying, and he does give it the old college try… but I’m always on the side of the tall, broad-shouldered redhead who reads.  Always.

I also think the writing is just perfect.  The whole story is paced so well that I never found myself getting distracted.  Even though this takes place in 1896, there is a modern feel and tone to it.  It reads like historical fiction for people who aren’t fans of historical fiction.  I would have liked to see more use of the magic or more explanation of the power behind the different spells, but I also understand that, in this setting, teaching spells can’t really happen because it’s a society that openly hunts and punishes witches.  I hope (and expect) that more witchcraft will show itself in the next installment of the Cahill Witch Chronicles.

I would definitely recommend Born Wicked.  In fact, I already have recommended it multiple times.  It’s got a little bit of everything- romance, history, magic, heartbreak, action, suspense, feminism, and a cliffhanger that’s sort of killing me!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


  1. So happy I've decided to order this book! I'm very strict on buying books because I worry it'll be a waste of money, but I haven't seen a bad review of this one yet either! Thank you for the review!