Book Reviews

[review] Born Wicked – Jessica Spotswood

Release Date: February 7, 2012
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (Penguin)
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 326
Format: Hardcover
Source: ARC received from Penguin Canada

Blessed with a gift…”cursed” with a secret.

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.

Tell Me More: Out of all the paranormal entities in popular culture, the witch has to be my favourite. The word itself conjures (pun very much intended) up images of cauldrons and broomsticks, but it’s their role as female icons that draws me in.

At first glance, the feminist dialogue seems to dog your every step–the reader can’t go a page without being told that Cate and her sisters are different, that the Brotherhood would kill them if they knew their secret, that they are trapped in a patriarchal society, et cetera. The foreshadowing is also quite obvious. This emphasis does make the first half of the novel a bit tedious, and it’s the reason I couldn’t read the book in one sitting. I believed in the message from the start, however, and it was awesome when Cate finally grew into her own voice.

Born Wicked is a curious novel in that it never really gives the reader a charged climax. I see similarities to Marissa Meyer’s Cinder: both novels are the first book in their respective series, they are narrated by wonderfully strong young women and more than anything else, they are there to set up the story for an extensive and detailed conclusion. It didn’t take much to get me invested in Cate’s life and I appreciated the care Jessica Spotswood took in molding her character. Her confidence and willingness to dance to her own beat is something young women should see in their own female role models. I never worried about her, because I myself was confident that she would be strong enough to deal with anything that came her way. It’s so refreshing to be able to say that about a character in YA fiction.

And of course, no review of Born Wicked can go without mentioning the illustrious Finn Belastra. When I first heard about the book, my initial reaction was “Of COURSE, Cate falls in love with their gardener.” It’s a very common trope in romance novels, especially ones set in the Victorian or Regency era (which Born Wicked is based on). However, I was quite pleased with the direction Jessica Spotswood took in her story, and I do feel that the love story is a fulfilling one. I’m crossing my fingers against any love triangles!

That’s Not All:

  • So much LGBTQ love!
  • Okay, can I just talk about how smooth Finn is? He’s redeemed that name for me.

The Final Say: Wonderful character development, intense romance and a protagonist that leaps off the page in all her glory–Born Wicked has it all!

Be sure to visit Jessica Shea at her website and follow her on Twitter @jessica_shea.

You can check out Born Wicked on Goodreads and order it from The Book Depository.

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5 replies »

  1. I really love this review. You really took pains to explain why you liked the book so much – and in a way that made me MORE determined to read it. I appreciate your honesty! Plus the way you talk about Cate really makes me want to “meet” her for myself!

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