Born Wicked (The Cahill Witch Chronicles #1)

Born WickedBy Jessica Spotswood

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publication Date: February 7, 2012
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Source: Publisher

“Blessed with a gift…”cursed” with a secret.”

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.

Goodreads Summary

It’s close to the turn of the 20th century. After a massive witch hunt years earlier, a new council known as The Brotherhood rules society with an iron fist. They subjugate women into three sharply defined and monitored categories: wives, members of The Sisterhood and any remaining witches they can ferret out. Female children are given until their seventeenth birthday to choose the Sisterhood or matrimony and if they haven’t been offered for, The Brotherhood chooses for them.

Sixteen-year-old Cate Cahill has been a stand-in mother to her two younger sisters since her mother died, doing her best to honor her deathbed promise to always watch over them. The promise was needed because like her mother, Cate and her sisters Moira and Tess are witches and need to constantly be on guard against The Brotherhood. As the girls get older, it’s becoming harder for Cait to keep them from practicing their magic and tensions between the sisters have begun to grow high. With Cate’s impending 17th birthday, the arrival of a new governess from The Sisterhood throws the household into complete chaos, pitting sister against sister as everyone in the house starts keeping huge secrets from each other – potentially life-changing, society-altering secrets.

Okay, forgive me while I grab my eyeballs and roll them back forward. Oh my gosh, did I love this book. I suppose I should throw some disclaimers out there though. I love historical non-fiction. I love historical fiction if it’s done respectfully and isn’t wildly inaccurate or overdone. I love books about witches and I really love dystopians right now. So this sort of hit all of my buttons all at once. And there was romance, so bonus there.

The story is told in the first person, present tense from Cate’s POV and I thought it worked brilliantly to convey the tense, fearful, hopeful and desolate emotions Cate went through. This used the “myth” of the daughters of Persephone (last year there Sweet Venom, which used something similar with the Daughters of Medusa, although not particularly successfully for me), that prophesies that there will be three sisters born who are witches, the strongest of which shall be able to manipulate minds. That witch will be the savior of witches and women for the new century – and of course, it turns out that it’s Cate, who knew nothing about any of all of this. It changes everything for her, but for her headstrong, wild and calculating sister Moira – not so much.

Through it all, Cate’s on a sort of forced social tea circuit of all things and she finds out her little village isn’t quite what she thought it was. There are secrets and lies everywhere and each time she ventures out, I expected someone to get dragged off by The Brotherhood for being a witch – and sometimes someone did, whether they were guilty or not

I loved seeing all of the changes that Cate went through during the story as she figured out the secrets people were hiding from here and accepted some things about her. I’m an oldest sister and could understand that whole look after your younger siblings thing (although it wasn’t quite the same, even if my youngest brother is the devil) so it was especially fun to see her be selfish and make decisions outside of the family for a change. Her youngest sister Tess is sweet and impulsive and even for her age, pretty Cate-like. Middle sister Moira was quite unlikable. Well, she didn’t start out that way. She was just a little tired of being cooped up but then she got mean and unpleasant. If the sisters each get their own books, I’m wondering how I’m going to like hers.

Okay, I wasn’t going to skip the romance! Cate’s childhood friend Paul has been away studying in New London but has sort of been neglecting her, failing to come home for her mother’s funeral or holidays. It’s always been expected that they’ll marry though, and when he comes back, there’s a bit of a spark. For Cate, there was a full-fledged jolt for the handyman/son of the bookstore owner Finn Belastra, who transformed himself from a skinny geek in school to a big strong hunk of yum. He listens to her, knows when to leave her alone and even reads the same pirate adventure stories she used to. He’s sweet and delicious – I don’t know if anyone will think there’s any kind of love triangle, but I never saw one. I never doubted that hunk-o-Finn.

My Summary: This has a historical setting but it feels more dystopian with the ominous, all-knowing and powerful group of Brothers in control and the other elements (women) of society forced to go underground to survive. As dark as the subject was, I loved the way the secrets kept unfolding through the story, it made me suspicious of everyone and worried for Cate and her sisters. There were a few times I guessed what was coming, a few times my jaw dropped, I cried a little (like I usually do) and the ending wiped me out. I don’t know if the next book will be Moira’s or a continuation of Cate’s, but I’m pre-ordering it anyway. My “A” grades are pretty hard to earn lately but this one is solid.

My Rating: A



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