Tuesday, December 27, 2011

ARC Book Review: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

"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. If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren't safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other."

Spellbinding, enchanting, and romantic with a touch of mystery, history, and whole bunch of petticoats! Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood hitting the shelves this coming 2012 book season is definitely going to be a top contender for most anticipated publication.  Jessica Spotswood has turned a gruesome time in history into an enchanting and delicate story about sisters, loyalty, love and magic! 
We are thrown into the thick of things right off the bat with Cate Cahill and her sister Tess walking in their gardens at home. We quickly see that Tess is the youngest and Cate the oldest, with their middle sister Maura. Each of them have very different personalities; Cate has taken on the roll of mother due to the death of theirs a couple years ago and is far too mature for her age. Maura is a dreamer, reading her gothic romance novels, and Tess is the prodigy already knowing 4 different languages, and the apple of their scholarly fathers eye (in their studies at least) but one thing is for sure, they are all far too eccentric for their own good. The story follows the three sisters as they hide their magical side from the Brothers, who are the town’s clergy, leaders and judges; and also the persecutors of suspected witches within their town. So when Cate finds a letter from their mother foretelling of a prophecy involving three young sisters all witches, she does everything in her power to protect her sisters, even if it means sacrificing everything she has come to love and cherish in her life. 
This story absolutely blew me away! I was not expecting to love it as much as I did. The plot, the characters and the setting all play a dramatic roll within this book each element making the book a beautiful story for all ages to enjoy. 
The Plot: The plot of any story is obviously the most important thing within a book, but Jessica Spotswood has definitely taken a new twist on witches in Born Wicked and added her own flare to the genre. As we know the story does take place in a simpler time with petticoats, governess’ and prim and proper gentlemen; where high society was being invited to the most popular ladies high tea’s and where being different is shunned. Some people may find it boring or dull but I thrive to be thrown into a new era. Shortly after the beginning of Born Wicked, the girl’s father decides that they need a proper Governess so that Cate may be ready and prepared for her intention ceremony, either the Sisterhood or marriage. This is a little hard due to the nature of the girl’s talents, which only they know, and now must hide from another individual within their household. The plot is quick, leaving no time for filler chapters about nonsensical things. We get introduced to characters even quicker while the girls learn to be proper ladies - taking invitations to teas, dress fittings, and of course Sunday school where they learn how sinful their gifts are. I found that the plot was at first slow to start but once I had reached about 100 pages in I found I could not put the book down. The plot had highs, and lows, it has witty, funny and romantic moments, and the cliffhanger at the end was perfectly executed!
The Characters: When it comes to characters on the other hand I was torn between whom I had adored more. Cate Cahill the main sister within the story and our narrator I found to be a little bit annoying at times. She just could not let her sisters have a little bit of fun with their magic. I understand how she is afraid of some one seeing them practice magic but she was stubborn, and ignorant at times to the activities going on around her. Although, by about the 200th page I began to understand her more and more, and found her to be a strong, mature character and she quickly became my favourite. Maura and Tess Cahill I thought were the perfect image of sisters within this era. They looked up to their big sister for guidance but also annoyed and teased her to no end. Maura did become a tad bit irritating as the book progressed, and I found her antics a bit immature but I think that was the whole point. Overall the three sisters were strong characters and began to grow more and more with each chapter. My other favourite character would have to be Finn Belastra the Cahill gardener and the son of the Bookshop owner. Can we say swoon! I am in love! He is described as a tall, well-muscled freckled man with red hair and a knack for always having a book in his pocket. A boy with freckles, and who loves to read! He is my perfect opposite. This character was very well developed and wonderfully introduced as a suitor for Cate. I found him to be charming, witty, shy and perfect for Cate (and myself, hehe). If for one reason you read this book, let it be Finn Belastra!
The Setting: The Cahill sisters live in a little town in New England, out in the country but not too far to raise suspicion from the Brotherhood. There is another setting that I am sure we will get an eyeful of in the next book, New London, but we do not know a lot about that place except Cate's father does a lot of work there. The setting does not play an entirely huge roll within the story, although Spotswood does include their mothers rose garden as their own private and safe place to practice magic. Also, gardening seems to be Cate’s only personal thing she does best and loves to do. I have always found it unique when authors pick a certain subject or feature of their story and have the main character concentrate on it. Gardening is how Finn and Cate spend time together and grow into their relationship. Also it is a way Cate can connect with her mother, and also plays a huge roll in her choice she makes. It is her own private sanctuary and no dignified lady would ever be caught with dirt under her fingernails … except Cate!
Born Wicked is a beautifully written story, and is suggested for all ages to enjoy. It shows that the bond of sisterhood is stronger than any prophecy, or outside influences that are thrown at the Cahill sisters. You will definitely enjoy this book if you are a fan of strong eccentric heroines, magical romances, and secrets that will get your heart pounding with excitement! 


  1. Oh great review Jackie! I can't wait to get this and read it!! It sounds amazing, and the few reviews that have come out so far have been amazing.


  2. Thank you so much Andrea!! I really loved this book, and I am anticipating the release so I can see everyone's reactions and reviews as well :) It truly is an amazing book and Spotswood is a fantastic author! - Glad you enjoyed!