The Cahill Witch Chronicles (Book 1)
By Jessica Spotswood
Available now from Penguin Putnam
Part of the Breathless Reads tour
Cate Cahill promised her dying mother that she would protect her two younger sisters, Maura and Tess. It's not an easy promise to keep. The three Cahill girls are powerful witches - and magic is illegal. They live in late nineteenth century America, but not the one we'd find in our history books. In this America the Brotherhood rules after overthrowing the witches. They maintain strict control of the population, particularly the female population. Once a girl comes of age, she must either marry or join the Sisterhood. And if she's found to be a witch, she'll go to jail or be killed. Cate's coming up on the deadline and can't seem to impress her sisters with the importance of discretion before it's time for her to leave home.
Meanwhile, Finn - the new gardener - is hot. And he reads. For fun.
As Cate comes out of the isolation she imposed to protect the Cahills after her mother's death, she begins to pay more attention to the village and the people in it. Who can she trust? Paul, the old friend come home that everyone expects Cate to marry; Elena, the new governess who is less staid than expected; or Sachi, the daughter of Brother Ishida (Head of the Council) who might be less empty-headed than she appears? And what is up with the note from a mysterious ZR, warning Cate that she and her sisters are in grave danger?
The alternative history/fantasy BORN WICKED is very swoony indeed. Jessica Spotswood doesn't hesitate to make things complicated. Almost everyone in BORN WICKED has their own agenda. She also doesn't make it so simple as all Brothers and Sisters are the enemy. There's far more to the world than the sheltered Cate originally suspects.
BORN WICKED is a propulsive read. Cate's paranoia is well-justified. And on top of risking fear of exposure, there's a time limit! Cate never forgets that her Intention ceremony happens in less than six months. The foreboding prophecy is just icing on the cake.
I'm ready to read the next book in the Cahill Witch Chronicles. Spotswood doesn't follow the annoying trend of leaving the first book hanging, but she does throw in a few last minute twists. BORN WICKED is a thrilling and thoughtful debut.