Jul 20, 2012

Review | Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Title: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood
Series: The Cahill Witch Chronicles #1
Genre: YA - Paranormal
Publication: 02.07.2012 by Putnam Juvenile
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Synopsis: 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.

Thoughts: For some reason, I don't think I would've picked up Born Wicked if it had not been chosen by my book club. It sounded like something I would enjoy a lot when I read the description, but sadly, I was one of the few (it seems) who didn't enjoy this book as much I had originally expected.

Cate Cahill promised her mother to care for her two younger sisters when she was only fourteen. She is then faced with the responsibility of protecting them from watchful eyes and the dangerous Brotherhood, the leaders of her society that hates witchcraft and arrest women without remorse or proof when they are suspected of being involved with witchery. Now at the age of seventeen, she must make a decision about her future, which becomes quite a problem for Cate and her sisters, Tess and Maura, because they happen to be very powerful witches.

Born Wicked sounded like a delightful mixture of genres with a unique and promising premise, but it fell flat in delivery and the historical, paranormal and romantic aspects did not live up to my expectations. While Born Wicked sounds like a book full of magic, it actually lacked the magical aspects that I was hoping for and instead focused on other, obvious points of the story.

The characters aren't anything special either, and this was disappointing, but also made me want to put the book down. Cate definitely loves her sisters and only wants what is best for them, but her stubborness and hate of her magical powers, makes her too overprotective and tries to supress them too much. The way she treats her sisters becomes quite annoying, and their relationships are really forced. Tess and Maura aren't too much different either. They are both hardheaded and while Tess is a particularly enjoyable character to read about, she isn't included as much because of her young age. While I wasn't fond of any of them, I did think that their relationship was very realistic and this kept me interested enough to keep going in the book.

Then there is some romance. A love triangle to be exact. And while I usually love them, I wasn't particularly fond of either Finn or Paul and really didn't connect with Cate's feelings for them. It is pretty obvious who she is going to choose in fact, but I was also clearly aware of how the ending was going to turn out. Overall, it turned out that the romance wasn't really too interesting, although there were a few moments where some sparks were flying. It was a major part in the book and the author focused a lot more on the romance aspect than the witchcraft, and this was very disappointing.

I must admit that while I was disappointed, I found the writing to be beautiful and accurate to the time and place. While most of the characters and the storyline wasn't fulfilling enough, Spotswood was able to weave a beautiful setting, that included amazing dresses, majestic homes and lands, and a language that suited the time-frame of the book. I have a special place in my heart for historical novels, and she was able to pull together some descriptions that saved the book for me.

Overall: Born Wicked was definitely not what I had originally expected, but I am a bit interested in where the author will take the story. I might not pick up the next book immediately, but maybe one day I will. The characters weren't ones that I connected with and the romance fell a little flat for me, but the relationships among some characters and the writing definitely made this book a little better for me. While I gave this book a lower rating, I definitely think that others will enjoy it. I definitely suggest you check it out. It comes with small amounts of magic here and there, but some twists and turns that will keep you engaged until the shocking (but a bit obvious) ending.


  1. Aw, I'm sorry this one didn't work for you. I absolutely loved it, but I can see why you'd be annoyed by Cate's relationship with her sisters.

    I find it interesting that you mention a love-triangle. I didn't even consider it one, since it was so obvious who Cate would pick.

  2. You know, I've seen this book in the bookstore every time I go in there and it never really felt like anything I'd want to read. Thanks for the review, it still doesn't sound like something I'd enjoy so I'm going to steer clear.