AUTHOR: Jessica Spotswood
The Cahill Witch Chronicles | OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: Star Crossed
ACQUIRED: Borrowed | Library
EDITION: Hardcover, 330 pages
PUBLICATION INFORMATION: February 7th 2012 by Putnam Juvenile
CATEGORIES: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Historical Fiction, Witches, Romance, Magic, 3.5 Stars, Putnam Juvenile Publishing, Jessica Spotswood, 2013 Read, Book 1 in Series, Born Wicked, The Cahill Witch Chronicles
RATING: 3.50/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.95/5.00
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: 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.
MY THOUGHTS: Born Wicked was an interesting read for me. It’s not one of those action-packed, fast-paced stories where you’re constantly getting whiplash from how quickly the plot goes and how crazy the scenes get. Instead, the first installment in the Cahill Witch Chronicles moves slowly, dishing out dangerous liaisons, magical misuse, and secrets that rock a town to its core.
Cate Cahill is our protagonist. She is almost seventeen, the oldest of three girls, and very maternal since her mother died several years ago. Cate feels that it is her duty to not only care for her two younger sisters, but also to make sure they are not using any of their magical powers, lest the Brotherhood finds out they are witches and tries them. Once tried, a witch would either be sent to the Harwood Asylum or be killed; neither of which are viable options for Cate and her sisters.
Born Wicked is set in an ‘Alternate 1900 New England’ where the Brotherhood rule and at the age of seventeen a girl must announce her intentions to marry (and to whom) or join the Sisterhood. At first I wasn’t sure how I would feel about reading a story taking place in an ‘alternate’ place and time, but once I was into the story, Spotswood does a wonderful job creating the world where her characters live.
The characters are well developed, each with their own personalities and attitudes. I can’t say I necessarily loved Cate as the protagonist, but I am going to assume that she will be a wholly different person in the next book(s) to come. Where she tried to stay as out of sight as possible, I think we are going to see a giant change in her, now that she knows how things really are in New England.
One character I really enjoyed, however; was Finn Belastra. He was a wonderful love interest, and one of two guys to make up the love triangle. He’s smart, witty, and willing to fight anyone or anything for the people that he loves. In that way, he and Cate have a lot in common. They only want to protect their families, and put themselves last. He is wonderfully selfless, and a great match for Cate.
Cate’s two sisters, Tess and Maura, each have a unique voice to the story. Cate is overprotective and suffocates them, and Maura acts out at any chance she gets. Tess is the quieter, gentler one who just wants the three of them to stay unified while making decisions together, rather than suppressing their magic and being told how to behave.
One character that I completely disliked was Sister Elena, from the Sisterhood. She annoyed me from the first page she appeared on. I’m not sure completely what it was that irritated me, but she just rubbed me the wrong way! And how she played the sisters against each other and played with Maura’s heart and emotions was just unforgivable.
The slower pacing of the story, I believe actually helped the story to achieve an eerie, kind of maybe almost Gothic-Victorian type of air to it. I would say it felt rather dark and gloomy than a light, airy read. The Brotherhood is oppressive in their rules – and just like any other “government” type body, they have their corruption and flaws. I will be curious to see how things change within the Sisterhood that will ultimately affect the Brotherhood in the end.
There is a great prophecy that is entangled in the web of this tale as well; one that could have several different outcomes and consequences. There is a bit of a twist at the end – one that I cannot say was completely unpredictable, but I am anxious to see how Cate handles her choices and how it will affect those around her.
Overall, I enjoyed this read for the straight-forward story that it is. I would willingly recommend to anyone who enjoys paranormal, steampunk, historical fiction, or just a good fight-for-love story.
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