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.
I feel so bad about leaving Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood on my shelf for so long. I bought it when it came out, which was over a year ago. I met Jessica on the Breathless Reads tour, and since she's local, I've met her several times since. She is so sweet and lovely. So I felt bad about having not read it. But at the same time I was afraid to read it. What if I didn't like it? I didn't want to give it a bad review. She'd probably see it. (panics)
But I finally read it, and... it was AMAZING! It's definitely one of my favorite books I've read so far this year. I loved everything about it. (suppresses the gushing)
Cate Cahill is the oldest of three. She has two younger sisters, Maura and Tess. And they're all witches. That wouldn't be such a problem except the time period. Born Wicked is set in the late 1800's. Witches were feared. They were killed or locked up. Women weren't allowed an education. We weren't treated as equals. Cate is running out of time on her intention ceremony. She can choose to join the Sisterhood (which is not what it seems) or a young man who proposes to her. Or the Brotherhood can choose for her.
I really enjoyed Cate. I don't have two sisters, but I definitely connected with her in her role as oldest. Growing up, my mother was sick. I took care of my brother a lot. I could understand why she did what she did and made the decisions she made. It's not easy being the oldest and shouldering all of the responsibility. Trying to protect her siblings and doing what's best. Maura reminded me a lot of my brother. Being rebellious and seeing the older sibling as bossy instead of someone who is taking the role of caregiver. Whether they were getting along or not, I enjoyed their relationship. It felt really genuine.
Cate has two suitors. Finn and... that other guy. Just kidding. His name is Paul. But I'm Team Finn all the way! He's working at his family's book store and in the Cahill's gardens. He's intelligent and funny and different from other guys. Cate can't help but fall for him. She knows it's a bad match for a number of reasons, but the heart wants what it wants. While Born Wicked does have something of a romantic triangle, it's not the typical triangle we see in YA paranormal fantasy. And I really appreciated that. Too often it's a girl torn between the good guy and the bad boy, while we all know she's going to pick the bad boy from page one.
The Brotherhood... there are not words to describe how much I hated them. I wanted to jump in the pages and rip them limb from limb. As a woman and a feminist, they did nothing but piss me off. Which was their point. The Brotherhood, the men who work in god's service, were the real monsters. Not the witches. These villains were very well written.
And lastly, another thing that I loved about this book was that it kept me guessing. I had some theories. Some of them played out. But even reading the final pages, I wasn't sure what Cate was going to do. And that was quite possibly the best part about the book. I just requested book two, Star Cursed, on NetGalley. Keep your fingers crossed for me.
Oh! And while I can't read French, I need this book on my shelf! See that last cover? One of the best witchy covers ever!