February 16, 2012

Review: Born Wicked

Book CoverThe Cahill Witch Chronicles (Book 1)
By Jessica Spotswood
Available now from Penguin Putnam
Review copy

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. 


  1. I'm looking forward to this one. I'm going to a bookstore event for Spotswood next month, so I'll wait to get my signed copy. Nice review - it's good to know that the book doesn't go all cliffhanger!

  2. I'm going to an event for it to, so we'll be able to compare notes!

    Yep, I much prefer this type of ending. There's plenty of questions for the rest of the series to answer, but there's still a complete plot arc.

  3. I've heard lots of good things for it, but not much raving. I am interested enough to find it...someday :)

  4. I really don't get it :P I've read lots of reviews about this book, and a lot of people seems to like this book. How? I mean, I've read it, and OMG, it was my first negative review EVER. Cate in my opinion is whatever - she says she stands for something, like protecting her sisters at all costs - and then in the end when she actually needed to protect them - the could have gone straight to the mad house if it wasn't for Tess. I couldn't understand - HOW could she just stand there!?! And do nothing? When during the whole book she doesn't want to get married to Paul because of the safety of her sisters, she puts up with the crap of Elena, she doesn't want to marry Finn because his mother work in a bookstore which is bad reflection against her sisters, again. I don't know.

    And in the end when she won't speak with Finn because the Sisters won't let her and she won't beg for it?! OMG, screw the Sisters and go tell the boy why exactly you broke his heart, damn it. I didn't see it as Cate being strong. I saw a girl, who is supposedly the most badass witch of the century, controlled by a group of other witches, who do with her whatever they want. This was the biggest paradox ever. Fuck, it's still makes me mad when I think about it.

    Well, um, I just had one of my moments :P But anyway, if you liked the book, that's ok :) :) Before I've read I really wished I would love it too. But I guess it just wasn't my type. :P


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