Spotlight Week: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

This month’s Spotlight Week features BORN WICKED, Book 1 of The Cahill Witch Chronicles by YA author Jessica Spotswood.




Born Wicked: The Cahill Witch Chronicles, Book One

272 pages, Hardcover

Genre: YA, Ages 12 and up

Published on February 7, 2012 by Putnam Juvenile

ISBN-10: 9780399257452

ISBN-13: 978-0399257452



First Line:

Our mother was a witch, too, but she hid it better.



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.


My Review:

I love witches, so this book was definitely right up my alley. A historical fantasy, Born Wicked tells the tale of three Cahill sisters who find out they are witches, at a time when witches have fallen from power and face complete annihilation.

The story starts out slow, but since the characters and their world was intriguing, I found myself completely hooked. By the time I finished Born Wicked, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Star Cursed, the second book in the series.

Set in an alternate version of New England in the 1800’s, the story features townspeople with different ethnic backgrounds. It was interesting to imagine different cultures mixing together seamlessly in that time period. What was even more interesting was that the predominant social issue of the period wasn’t race, as in our history, but gender.

In their society, women are closely monitored for signs of witchcraft. The Brotherhood propagates this misogynistic view for fear that women would once more rise to power. They use religion and societal laws to keep women subservient. Girls have to make a tough choice when they turn seventeen: either get married or join the Sisterhood.

This is the choice Cate has to face with her 17th birthday fast approaching. Left without a mother, Cate has to figure out the best course of action on her own. On top of this already difficult choice, she also has to deal with the fact she and her sisters have a terrible secret: they are all witches. As the eldest, Cate takes the promise she made to her mother very seriously. She constantly worries about her two sisters and frets about their use of magic, even if it’s in secret. Her overprotective approach causes her to constantly butt heads with her sisters, most particularly Maura, the middle child.

The story is told from Cate’s point of view and through her eyes we get a glimpse of the other characters that surround her. Her middle sister Maura is stubborn, determined and has a rebellious streak when it comes to magic. Their youngest sister Tess is sweet and intelligent, and magic flows through her naturally. The three are strong women and powerful witches in their own right and are prophesied to restore society’s power to the witches. One of the things I loved about the book was the siblings’ interactions with each other. While it is obvious that they love each other, there is no lack of tension and arguments among them.

Since this book is YA, romance is to be expected. Cate is torn between two potential suitors –Finn, their quiet, intelligent gardener and Paul, her childhood sweetheart. The subplot adds drama and suspense to the story without overpowering it.

Born Wicked is a character-driven story, so most of the action really happens in Cate’s mind. The turmoil she experiences is centered around the relationships she has with the people around her. Magic doesn’t often show up in the scenes, understandably because the sisters try to keep their powers hidden, but when it does show up, the scenes are often memorable and thrilling.

Author Jessica Spotswood uses descriptive details to set her scenes and to elevate the story in her readers’ imaginations. There are unexpected plot twists throughout which made me gasp, and the cliffhanger ending left me with a desire to follow the characters through to the end of the series. I recommend this book to all those who enjoy historical fantasy, most especially to folks who love a good witch story.



Tune in again on Wednesday for an interview with the wonderful Jessica Spotswood.

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5 Responses to “Spotlight Week: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood”

  1. That would be a tough secret for three sisters to keep.

  2. LD Masterson says:

    An intriguing story line.

  3. Carina Olsen says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed this book 😀 I have yet to start this series :\ But I cannot wait. Because I do think I will love these books :) Thank you for sharing. <3

  4. I enjoy witch stories. This looks like a good one.

  5. […] you want to know more about BORN WICKED  you can read my book review here or watch the amazing trailer […]

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