Review: Born Wicked

Born Wicked New Cover


BORN WICKED by Jessica Spotswood was released in the U.S. on February 7, 2012 in hardcover, audio and eBook formats. A paperback edition was released on January 3, 2013.

It is currently available to order online in all formats at AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE.

Published by Putnam Juvenile, the print edition is 272 pages.

BORN WICKED is the first book in author Jessica Spotswood’s Cahill Witch Chronicles. The second book in the series, STAR CURSED, is slated for release on June 18, 2013.


Goodreads Description…

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.


Author Jessica Spotswood’s BORN WICKED is a beautifully written, incredibly engaging and simply magical read. It’s a story that, while fictional, addresses very real issues from  our history – the fear of witchcraft, the oppression of women and girls, the suppression of knowledge and freedom of speech, opinion, expression.

It’s a story that captivates with not only its interesting characters, their relationships, their motivations and their beliefs, but its mystery, its magic, its suspenseful storyline. And it’s a story that will keep readers guessing right up to its climactic conclusion.

Under the guise of keeping everyone safe from the threat of witches and witchcraft, the priests of the Brotherhood have established a dictatorial rule. One that is overly restrictive, unforgiving and deadly for those in opposition.

Which makes it even more important for no one to find out about the secret Catherine Cahill and her sisters are keeping – that they are witches, possibly even the prophesied ones. But with one sister who is curious about her abilities and another who can’t seem to control them, hiding who and what they are is becoming even more of a challenge.

And with time running out for Cate to decide on her future, one that will mean leaving her sisters behind, she’ll need to figure out a way to keep their secret safe, keep them hidden from the Brothers and keep them from drawing the attention of the Sisters. Because if they are the three sisters from the prophecy, then the danger to all of them will be greater than ever and will be deadly for one of them.

Cate Cahill is an incredibly likable and relatable main character. She’s been cast into the role of protector, forced to make sacrifices, and is faced with difficult decisions. Decisions that will either take her away from her home and family, leave her sisters unprotected, leave her heartbroken or break someone else’s heart.

She is compassionate and thoughtful, but not perfect. She is pretty but not the most beautiful of her sisters, smart but not the most clever. But her ability to see the good in people and recognize her own faults makes her endearing and makes her a character readers will want to know more about.

BORN WICKED is a breath of fresh air and an absolutely wonderful addition to the genre. It’s exciting, it’s surprising and it’s intelligent. With its diversity in its character archetypes, its nod to events in history and its atypical heroine and hero, this story stands out from the crowd.

And with its build up to a shocking finish, which will leave readers anxiously awaiting the sequel, BORN WICKED is an absolute must read first book in the series.

Reviewer gives this book…


On a personal note…

BORN WICKED may be a story of witches. But it’s no ordinary tale of witchcraft and spellcasting. And the witches are anything but ordinary.

I am not someone who gravitates toward books about witchcraft. And I’m definitely not someone who reads many books of witches around the turn of the century… the twentieth century, that is.

But from the moment I started reading BORN WICKED I was in love. With the main character, Cate Cahill, with the setting, with the world. Even though it was dark, oppressive, scary. Though I kind of think that’s exactly why I fell in love.

I couldn’t wait to learn more about the witchcraft and the prophecy the story talks of. I instantly wondered whether Cate was “the one” and if she was, what would happen to her, to her sisters. And if it wasn’t her but someone she cared about, I wondered what would she do to protect them.

There is something really beautiful about the writing and the way the story flows. Something magical. It took me surprise. I did not expect to love it as much as I did, given that it wasn’t one of my “go to” genres, given that it wasn’t a story with a lightning-fast pace, given that there were no deadly battles.

And yet the pages just flew by. The story held me captive. Cate’s predicament made me anxious. The Brothers made me angry. The Sisters made me wary. And Cate’s sister Maura made me want to throttle her.

I questioned everything. And everyone. Everyone was suspect. From Paul to Maura to Mrs. Corbett, to Sister Elena, to Sachi, to Rory. I didn’t know who could be trusted. Except maybe Finn and Tess. And even then, I wasn’t sure they wouldn’t betray Cate.

I didn’t know what anyone’s motives were. Except maybe the Brothers. Their motives seemed pretty obvious. I didn’t know when the “bad thing” would happen. The one that I just knew would happen. I didn’t even know what that “bad thing” would be. Which made this more than a little bit of a nail-biter.

Reading BORN WICKED was the perfect escape. The world was one I could easily imagine the characters in. It was one I was easily transported to. And it was one I didn’t want to leave.

Especially after that ending. Which was killer. Which would have killed me if I didn’t have the next book in the series to dive into immediately. I may have uttered a few expletives after reading that ending. Though I knew… I just knew… that something like that would happen.

While this book was such an amazing surprise, what was even more surprising was Finn. He’s not the typical character I would root for. Paul fits that description. But it was Finn that stole my heart. He was the good guy – sweet, rumpled, studious. And yet he was it for me.

But I won’t say whether he was the boy for Cate, if Paul was more to her liking or if someone or something else held more of an appeal. Because that would be spoiler-y. And I don’t do spoilers.

BORN WICKED has been one of my favorite reads this year. And if magic were real, I’d say this story cast its spell on me. I was bewitched, enchanted, spellbound.

Favorite passage…

I actually had two clear favorites. One I would have loved to include but it is somewhat spoiler-y. So I’ve chosen to share my other favorite, which is rather scandalous given the time period.

I knot my fingers in his hair and pull his mouth back to mine.

His hands move over me, light as feathers, stroking my back, my hip. Tangling in the sash around my waist, anchoring me tighter against him. My body burns wherever he touches.

Book trailer…

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