Cate Cahill and her sisters are witches. Unfortunately they don’t hide it as well as their mother did. Too educated and far too clever, the Cahill sisters are already known throughout town for being eccentric and reclusive. Cate doesn’t mind their poor reputations, though, not if it can keep her younger sisters Maura and Tess safe.
And all three of the Cahill sisters do need to be kept safe. If the Brotherhood finds out about their magic, the girls could be sent to a prison ship. Or an asylum. Or they could disappear altogether never to be heard from again.
Cate’s efforts to keep the family beneath the Brotherhood’s notice begin to unravel as her Intention Ceremony approaches. With six months to choose between marriage or a life of service to the Brotherhood, Cate finds herself thrust into the heart of town society where she has to contend with tea parties, securing a suitable proposal, and the completely unsuitable but fascinating Finn Belastra.
Cate promised her mother she would keep her sisters safe. But as Cate learns more about the nature of her family’s magic and the risks they all face, Cate wonders if she is up to the task. Being a woman in New England during the late 19th century is bad enough. Being a witch could prove deadly in Born Wicked (2012) by Jessica Spotswood.
Born Wicked is Spotswood’s first novel. It is also the first book in the Cahill Witch Chronicles trilogy.
Set at the end of the 19th century, Spotswood creates an alternate history where witches are very real and women are seen as a threat. With historical details, some familiar and some not, Spotswood brings Cate’s New England to life with lushly described settings and brilliant characters that all but jump off the page.
Cate is a witty, realistic heroine torn between her own wants and her desire to protect her sisters at all costs. Cate’s siblings Maura and Tess have less page time but are equally individual and add another layer to the story. Finn Belastra, in addition to having a very cool surname, is an excellent foil for Cate throughout the story.
Born Wicked is a fast-paced, exciting read that will keep you guessing. The novel is well-plotted and keeps up the tension until the shocking conclusion. With so many delightful characters and so many unexpected turns, Born Wicked is a splendid start to a series that gives readers a lot to look forward to in book two.
Possible Pairings: White Cat by Holly Black, The Selection by Kiera Cass, Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe, Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough, The Crucible by Arthur Miller, Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink