Title: Born Wicked
Author: Jessica Spotswood
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: The Cahill Witch Chronicles (#1)
Publication Date: February 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 272 Pages
ISBN-10: 0399257454 (Putnam Juvenile)
ISBN-13: 9780399257452 (Putnam Juvenile)
Reviewed by: Emmy
Synopsis: 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 only six months left 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 starts 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.
Quick & Dirty: A fantastic fantasy set in an alternate world, a strong narrative voice brings the world alive and will make the reader wish it didn’t end! The perfect balance between a unique plot and a sweet romance.
Opening Sentence: Our Mother was a witch, too, but she hid it better.
Let me start out by saying, this is the book I’ve been waiting to read. It’s a fantasy, with an almost alternate history where witches were once a part of everyday life. They were powerful and respected–until people began figuring out what they could do, like mind magic. Then the people rebelled and the witches were hung or burned at the stake and the Brotherhood took over. The Temples of the Daughters of Persephone were burned to, usually with witches still inside. That was in 1780. Present day, girls are wearing corsets and riding in barouches, but witches are few and far between. There are still witch trials conducted by the Brotherhood, and women old and young are sentenced to hard labor on ships or Harwood–supposedly a mental asylum. Most of the girls convicted, however, aren’t witches. But to stand against the Brotherhood is to put yourself in danger, so no one speaks out against them.
Especially not Cate and her sisters. They really are witches. Since their mother died, no one knows their secret. Not even their Father, who’s character turned into an empty shell since the mother’s death. Cate, Maura and Tess only have each other, but they learn very quickly they can’t survive the way they have been. Terrified her sisters will be careless with their magic and expose them, Cate’s turned her family into recluses. They only go out to Sunday School and services, to hear the Brothers lecture them on the wickedness of being female. But being reclusive is starting to draw attention, and worse Cate only has six months before she turns seventeen.
At seventeen every woman has to go through an intention ceremony. They either get married, or they join the Sisterhood–the Brotherhood’s female annex. These girls seem way to young to be deciding on the rest of their lives. As you meet more of the almost brainwashed society you see how important these choices are and see Cate’s peers for who they really are. An engagement has to be announced three months before the intention ceremony, but Cate’s prospective fiancee Paul McLeod isn’t home yet. And then there’s Finn Belastra. The incredibly attractive bookstore owner’s son turned gardener for the Cahill family. He seems to understand Cate in a way her childhood friend Paul doesn’t. But Cate’s a gentlewoman and the last thing she can do is marry beneath her, especially with the Brother’s paying such close attention to the bookstore.
But Father’s worried Cate and Maura won’t make matches at all, especially since they don’t move about in society. So in comes their governess Sister Elena, who seems to embody everything the Sisterhood should oppose–vanity, pride, and materialism. Her sisters love her, but Cate is beginning to realize that everything isn’t as it seems and she resents Elena for barging into their lives. Having a Sister living with them isn’t going to make hiding their magic any easier, but refusing her help would be worse.
The Cahill sister’s are in danger. Or so says the note Cate receives from a mysterious ZR and her mother’s diary. Turns out there’s a lot about magic and the people who wield it that Cate’s mother never told her. Like the fact people will begin hunting down the three sisters mentioned in a prophecy–sisters who could very well be the Cahills. Because according to the prophecy, one of the sisters can do mind magic. She can bend anyone to her will and make them forget anything, and she’ll either lift the witches up from repression or bring about their destruction. And there’s more to the prophecy–the half Cate’s mother never wrote down–that will change everything for the Cahill family. No one’s safe, and nothing is as it seems.
This story has a wonderful budding romance, but it doesn’t overpower the plot. Cate has a lot of choices to make in this book, as do her sisters. She shoulders a lot of responsibility in this novel and it’s hard not to pity her for never being able to be a normal girl. But then, what’s normal when you have to hide who you are? This book builds a wonderful fantasy world that closely parallels our own, making it easy to understand the culture brought to life in this book. I fell in love with her characters and I am dying to read the next book!
Elena’s voice is like a whip, and I flinch as though she’s struck me. “Has it ever occurred to you that not all women who refuse to flout convention are mindless? Perhaps it means that they’re clever enough to remain inconspicuous.”
Is she implying that our reputation is my fault? That I’ve mishandled things because I’m not clever enough? I’ve kept my sisters out of Harwood, away from teh Brotherhood and their snooping informants. Whatever the old crows in town might say about us, I consider that a success.
The Cahill Witch Chronicles Series:
1. Born Wicked
FTC Advisory: Putnam Juvenile provided me with a copy of Born Wicked. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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