26 November 2012

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

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.
When it first entered the blogosphere, Born Wicked made quite a splash.  Though they haven't gone as viral as vampires and werewolves, witches are a very popular source of entertainment for those who lean towards the supernatural side.  And oh, does Jessica Spotswood know how to provide entertainment.  The allure of witches had previously passed me by, but what Spotswood has done in Born Wicked has my interest piqued.  She presented her world with delicious details, her characters with stunning contrasts, and her romance with a tragic twist.  Born Wicked drew me in from page one, and I was reluctant to let go at the last.

I love it when the atmosphere of a book is so clear and profound that it leaves little watermarks in my mind.  The world of Born Wicked has a whole light spectrum of depth to it, ranging from rosy moments of happiness tinged with a dark slash of forbidden love, and dark encounters with danger and magic.  While I may not know how historically accurate the real parts of her world are, I was fully satisfied with Spotswood's creation.

I was also deeply satisfied with the main character, Cate.  Too often, books that come with an interesting premise, a steady and promising writing style, and edgy world are torn apart by a weak and inconsistent main character.  Cate was a true heroine.  She had enormous responsibilities stacked onto her shoulders and not to mention more secrets than she could hide under her bell skirts.  I loved how, from page one, her vulnerabilities weren't shrouded by pride and anger.  This allowed me to really connect, and cheer for, her character.

And for the romance, too.  Oh, Finn.  My heart broke for you.  Love triangles have such a bad rep, but with this one, there isn't the classic template of the heroine flitting between the two heroes.  It is merely an awkward situation where two men are vying for the same woman, but not necessarily the other way around.  I loved Finn's character -- he was so adorable!  And he never got all macho, or smothered Cate with all his proclamations of protection.  I loved their relationship.

Another kind of relationship I loved was the one between Cate and her sisters.  Their relationship was constantly torn at throughout the story which (despite the unfairness of it) I liked because it was realistic and it challenged the characters, forcing them to grow.  The three of them made such an impression on me.  I'm practically twitching from the anticipation of what other horrible fates will descend upon them in the next book.  (Gosh, I sound so bloodthirsty there.  I love the sisters, I promise!)

Jessica Spotswood has a real eye for plot progression.  There was always something to move the story forward.  She didn't pussyfoot around -- she threw obstacle after ungodly obstacle in front of her characters until I wanted to cry for them.  By the end of the story, my heartstrings were in knots.  But I have to give it to her... Jessica Spotwood knows how to put a story together that kept me glued to every page.

Whether you're a fan of witches or not, Born Wicked may spark your fancy for them.  Or maybe, like me, you'll just figure that no one else will do it better than Jessica Spotswood, and declare that you only like witches if they're in the Cahill Chronicles.

Quotes
No matter how safe and beautiful it is, a cage is still a cage.
Reading is the perfect escape from whatever ails you.
From my vantage point I can see the back of his neck flush pink beneath his collar. He's got freckles there, too. I wonder how many more freckle's he's got. Are they all over, or just where the sun's touched?

Good Lord, why am I thinking of Finn Belastra without his clothes on?
Book Info

  • pages - hardcover, 330
  • published - February 2012
  • publisher - Putnam Juvenile
  • genre - historical fiction
  • received via - Half Price Books
  • rating - 5/5
  • series - Cahill Chronicles
    • Born Wicked
    • Star Cursed