Monday, April 2, 2012

REVIEW: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Born Wicked 
by Jessica Spotswood
Pub:Feb. 7th 2012 by Putnam Juvenile (first published Jan. 25th 2012)

REVIEW COPY: personal (hardcover)

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.


Born Wicked  is a tough review. I really liked most of the book. The story was unique and I thought the characters were interesting but I have some really big issues with the ending. 

The ending made me MAD. I invested in these characters, I worried about these characters. Some I might have disliked, but regardless, I deserved a better ending. I understand that cliffhangers are all the rage right now. Fair enough. A cliffhanger done right can be used to drive the series forward and build tension. 

For me, Born Wicked is an example of a cliff hanger done wrong. I felt like the whole book lead me up to one dramatic moment, then instead of completing the moment, it left me hanging. The ending was like an exciting chapter ending three quarters of the way through a book.  I understand the series is going somewhere bigger than Born Wicked itself, but I felt like I was cheated with Born Wicked. 

For the most part I liked the story. I found it was slow to get into, but once I got into the story and started to understand the world and the characters the book picked up and I was really interested in what would happen. The story is very layered and I think it has great potential to become a really fantanstic series.  

Cate was an interesting lead. She has so much weighing on her shoulders. Cate is trying despretely to protect her sisters and herself from the Brothers who will destroy them if they find out they are witches. The society they live in is very strict and very structured. Women have little or no power and very little say in their lives. It took a while for me to understand how this society came to be, but it is an interesting premise. Because Cate is almost 17, she will soon be required to declare her intentions for the future. That is, who she is going to marry or if she wants to join the Sisterhood, an organization that works under the Brotherhood (this hasn’t happened where Cate lives for a long time).

Cate is hoping to marry the boy who lived next door, Paul, who is newly returned to their town, but finds herself drawn to Finn, the bookstore owner who is currently working as a gardiner for the family to make enough money to support his mother and sister.

Paul is the safe choice. If she marries him, it will be the predicable and safe choice, whereas Finn could be a risk to the safety of her and her sisters. The brotherhood dislikes the bookstore. They think Finn’s family is sympathetic to witches and a romance (and marriage!) to Finn risks drawing  more unwanted attention from the brothers, who already distrust Cate and her two sisters.

Once the story really got going it was exciting and full of mystery and fast paced action and adventure. Many characters turn out to be not what they first appear to be and more than one character surprised me.

What disappointed me about Born Wicked was the decision to end on an extreme cliffhanger. I think we as readers deserved either more (or less even – ending a chapter earlier might have been better). I found it very unsatisfying to have the story end where it did. I would recommend Born Wicked, but I recommend waiting until closer to the release of the next book. I needed more closure for the story in this book, and instead I feel like everything set up for book two without respecting the story I’d just spent hours investing my time and emotions in. 

In the end, Born Wicked has potential to become an amazing story, the writing is good, the characters are interesting and the story has the potential to build into something meaningful and thought provoking. I’m curious where this story will go. 

For more information on Jessica Spotswood and the Cahill Witch Chronicles check out her website HERE

Happy Reading!


  1. The cliffhanger didn't bother me at all - but I totally agree with you that it's a VERY interesting idea that was used for the premise. I was completely fascinated by it, and I'm so curious to find out more about what happens next in the book series! I think it has a lot of potential as a book series :)

    Brenna from Esther's Ever After

  2. I really want to read this, but I not sure I'd deal well with the cliffhanger. The cliffhanger in Catching Fire almost killed me :D


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