Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

First, a few confessions: I don’t usually read YA literature, in fact, my total count is probably less than ten (including when I actually was a young adult) and I initially picked up Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood because I liked the character names (Cate, Maura, Tess, Finn, Rory, etc…). Great names, may I suggest a character named Gray for Star Cursed?

I did not go into this novel expecting anything wonderful (isn’t that a terrible way to start a review – or a novel, for that matter?), but I was pleasantly surprised. Born Wicked is a story set in a slightly altered nineteenth century New England focusing on the Cahill sisters. Cate, Maura, and Tess Cahill are too beautiful, too eccentric, and too unconventional for the times. This is not a coincidence, as they are all naturally gifted witches born to a time where witchcraft is feared and ferreted out with a frightening intensity by the Brotherhood (a rather sinister group of priests). Cate, the oldest and possibly strongest of the three sisters, must look out for her sisters after her mother dies. As she approaches her seventeenth birthday, it comes time for her intention ceremony (essentially where she announces her life’s intentions). She knows she must protect her sisters at all costs, but her options seemed bound to take her away from her family. Should she choose marriage to her childhood best friend, to her new love, or should she pledge herself to the Sisterhood? As revelations are made, Cate discovers that, ultimately, she and her sisters may not be safe anywhere – even from each other.

I found Born Wicked to be a wonderfully atmospheric and evocative fiction. I enjoyed immersing myself in the Cahill’s world for an afternoon (even though I am glad I do not live there). The richly detailed, beautifully crafted world pulls you in immediately. The book’s intensity builds slowly and methodically. There are no death defying stunts or epic battles (or soaring highs or lows), instead the actions and events of Born Wicked occur with quiet fervor. I thoroughly appreciated this, as it tends to be one of the issues I have with the YA genre. The novel effortlessly blends magic, sisterhood, and first love, though the story hints that none of these relationships will be easy or safe. I’m looking forward to the next entry into the series. Bottom line: 3.5/5. I think you’ll like this novel if you enjoy a mix of magic, (alternative) historical fiction, and a love story (both the familial and romantic variety).

Born Wicked is the first book in The Cahill Witch Chronicles. Book two, Star Cursed, has a tentative release date of June 2013.

Have you read it? Did anyone else get irritated by the cover? It’s a beautiful cover, but the dress is significantly too short for the time period of the novel (this is otherwise known as being nitpicky).

Image: Goodreads

4 thoughts on “Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

  1. I dislike the cover which reminds me of an overdecorated cake. I dislike the title. In fact, I dislike any title with the words “Blood” “Dead” or “Wicked”. But I really like your review. : ]


    1. And the flowers on the cover were fuzzy (it was the textural equivalent of nails on a chalkboard). I like the word wicked, but I generally use it as a synonym for very (though I certainly know the actual meaning, I just prefer the vernacular use).


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