Friday, January 27, 2012

Review: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Book Description via Goodreads:

ARC, 326 pages
February 7, 2012, Putnam Juvenile

A Great and Terrible Beauty meets Cassandra Clare in this spellbinding fantasy

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.

Source: Jennifer Spotswood (Thank you!!)

My Thoughts:

Cate, Maura and Tess were beautiful, educated by their father and intentionally isolated from the other girls. Cate had always thought that keeping away from the other girls, not drawing attention to herself and to her sisters was the safe thing to do. But with her 17th birthday and her intention ceremony just a few months away, she started having doubts, especially when more and more girls labeled as bluestockings were being accused as witches and arrested. I admired Cate's dedication and love for her sisters despite the constant tension between them. I loved how I was able to see the complicated happenings at the Cahill household.

In Cate’s world, girls were supposed to talk, act and dress properly. Women were naturally wicked according to the Brothers who preach in church. They were the source of temptation and they were the ones who ended up in an asylum after being accused of witchery. I find the norms of society difficult to bear with and terrifyingly strict. Since the death of Cate’s mother, Cate tried to stand as the protector of her sisters, caring for them, teaching them and warning them against the dangers of magic. But her task was hard to do especially when Maura never listened to her and Tess was too enthusiastic to use magic.

Paul was Cate’s childhood friend. He just came back from New London and he asked her hand for marriage. He was the sweet, fun and handsome boy-next-door type who knew Cate well. Although he was a bit too proud and overconfident, he definitely worked his charm on women. In the beginning, I wanted Paul for Cate. But that changed when Cate’s gardener, Finn Belastra entered the picture. Finn was the intelligent, eccentric, quiet and mysterious type. He was a keen observer with smart ideas, sharp thoughts and funny remarks. He could read and get Cate. But what I really liked about him was that he was a true gentleman and a passionate lover.

Enter the Brotherhood and Sisterhood. The Brotherhood was composed of men serving God who made sure that they kept everyone in line, by line I meant the ‘moral line.’ They preached, walked in that self-righteous way of theirs. They had the right to accuse and arrest girls for witchery. The brothers were scary. If I lived in that time, they would be on the top of my hate list. Their counterpart, the Sisterhood was composed of girls serving God and girls who were forced to join the Sisterhood, either because they didn’t want to marry or no one asked for their hand. But the Sisterhood also became a refuge for girls.

Born Wicked was generally filled with surprises. I kept gasping, staring wide-eyed at the pages every now and then. The novel grabbed me by the hand and led me deeper and deeper into its alternative historical setting. I loved reading about the dresses, corsets, tea parties, strict social norms, scandals and of course, witchery. The author’s attention to detail paid off. Nothing felt off. I think that the novel was backed up with enough research and this made everything even more believable and realistic. The pace was just right for me. It was just right for me to absorb all the details and establish the setting and allow me to get to know the characters.

Born Wicked is the enchanting, romantic, tragic story of Cate Cahill, one of the bravest heroines I’ve ever encountered. Witchery, romance, scandals and history packed in an engrossing YA novel. I highly recommend this to paranormal romance readers, historical readers, romance readers and witch enthusiasts!



  1. Didn't you just adore this book? It was a complete surprise to me. It was slow in the beginning but then when everything revealed itself . . . it was awesome to read about. Btw I love Finn! Sure I loved Paul too . . . but as soon as Finn entered it was "Nope I want HIM!" Anyway, great review! I'm definitely looking forward to the sequel.

  2. I have to get this one, I have heard a lot of great things about it.

  3. I like the idea of the Brotherhood/Sisterhood thing. This book sounds really good and I love cute boys:) Thanks for the great review!

  4. I love that this one blends history and magic together! It's being compared to Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle series which I love so I can't wait to read it. Thanks for the awesome review!

  5. Anything with witches, romance and scandals is my kind of book! :P. I love the sound of this, you've made me want to read it so much now! And Finn the gardener - well. I am intrigued. Great review, can't wait to read this one :).

  6. Precious!!! AHHH. I am so desperately excited to read this. I absolutely love anything with witches and magic, add to that a historical setting, gasp-worthy shocks and one beautiful gardener and oh, I am sold <33 I cannot wait to meet Finn, he sounds like such a... as you said, a GENTLEMAN <3 Amazing review!

  7. I was sold until you said tragic. I'm not sure if I want to do tragic right now. But I am intrigued by the rating. Plus, I am intrigued by witches and magic.

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