Title: Born Wicked
Series: The Cahill Witch Chronicles (1)
Author: Jessica Spotswood
Publisher: Penguin, via Speak
Genre: Historical/Paranormal Romance
I ended up liking this book a lot more than I expected. I bought it for two simple reasons: 1) I love books about witches, and 2) the cover blew me away. The second cover, that is; the one all pink and raven-speckled. I must be the right audience for it, because it intrigued me in ways the original cover didn’t (though the original cover is lovely and chilling).
This book is set in an interesting re-imaging of 19th Century New England; a New England originally settled not by puritans, but by witches. Hundreds of years and a violent overthrow later, witches and strong-minded women are unceremoniously tossed into prisons and labor camps—or worse—by the Brotherhood and their followers. At seventeen, girls choose between marriage or a religious calling to the Brotherhood’s female counterpart, the Sisterhood.
Cate Cahill would be facing a tough decision, even if she and her sisters weren’t witches. After her mother’s death, it fell to Cate to keep track of her two younger sisters and their budding powers. Now as her birthday looms, she’s desperate to find a way to stay with her sisters and keep them safe.
I liked the different take on history in this book, because it lead to a lot of other changes. When New England was founded by witches, it drew people from around the world, so the story has a lot of prominent characters who are not white. It also led to subtle changes in the dominant religion—they say “thanks be” instead of “amen,” for instance—even though in most ways the Brotherhood seems Christian.
Also, gay people exist! I always love when a book manages to admit that, especially when it’s not the point of the book.
The one thing I wasn’t entirely sold on was the prophecy that figures into the plot. Cate discovers a prophecy surrounding the birth of three witch sisters, who will lead to either the downfall of the Brotherhood or another dark time for witches. I had some reservations since prophecies about three sisters are pretty common in witch books, but the author pulled it off pretty well; I didn’t feel like I was reading the same story I’ve read before, and it served as a good motivator for the characters. I also liked the way she handled witchcraft and magic. Cate is an interesting character, and I loved that her reactions weren’t typical (or at least “proper”) for a girl of her era, but still seemed to make sense with her character.
I’ll definitely be picking up the second book!