Book Review: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

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 six months 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 stars 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. (from 

There’s been very little chance of missing this book over the last few weeks, it’s been everywhere around the blogosphere and receiving rave reviews. Intrigued by the historical setting and witchy theme it wasn’t long before a copy made it’s way to my own bookshelves.

Born Wicked is set in a late 19th century New England, but it’s not a history you’ll recognise. Jessica Spotswood’s world is one where witches are still persecuted and society is ruled by the fearsome Brotherhood. Women are repressed, forbidden to educate themselves and forced into marriage or The Sisterhood at an early age. It’s an alternative history and I soaked it up completely, finding the world intriguing, sinister and believable.

Cate Cahill and her sisters struggle in this world. Born witches and inherently intelligent, it isn’t in their nature to act the way society expects. But Cate is determined they must try their best to fit in and keep safe.  With their mother dead and father travelling, a great deal of responsibility rests on her young shoulders. I really liked Cate, she’s the type of heroine who doesn’t particularly relish her role, but steps up to it with strength and determination.

Born Wicked started off really well, it was so easy to get involved in and the pages turned effortlessly. However around midway through I thought the story got a little bit flat. Don’t get me wrong, the writing is great, it flows beautifully and the setting is described wonderfully. I just thought it lacked a little excitement to drive the plot. I also found the love triangle (yep…one of those) predictable and knew exactly where it would lead way before Cate even saw it coming. I can forgive a love triangle if I believe in it. This one I did not. But then about fifty pages towards the end the pace really picks up and I was back to loving this book. Jessica Spotswood has created an ending that ensures I’ll be following this series as I have to know what happens next!

Overall I liked this book. It didn’t blow me away and I feel a little disappointed about that because of the recent hype. However I really liked both the beginning and the end and see great promise for future books. It’s a very easy read, just over 330 pages, and I read it in a day. Do I recommend it? Well if witches, history and love triangles are your thing then you’ll probably enjoy this book. If the thought of yet another love triangle has you pulling out teeth, then best avoid.

Published by Putman (US) February 2012

11 thoughts on “Book Review: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

  1. somethings putting me off this one and I have no idea what, especially as I love witch books usually! I dont like Love triangles though so maybe its that… I might give it a go but thank you for the review! 😀


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