Born Wicked

Image via Goodreads

Born Wicked (The Cahill Witch Chronicles:  Book 1)
Jessica Spotswood

This book is surprising in all the best ways.  I would not have thought it possible to pack so much action into a story of an older sister trying to protect her younger sisters without any abusive parents.  In fact, if anything, with one parent dead and the other travelling for business for 95% of the book, it’s kind of hard to get further away from abusive parents. No, Spotwood’s genius lies in the world of fear and paranoia she creates for Cate.  An oldest daughter left to care for her two sisters makes for an interesting story.  Throw in the fact that all three of them are witches living in a time when witchcraft is used as an excuse to keep women in line and you have a story that’s enthralling.

Publisher’s Blurb:

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.

Primarily this story made me extraordinarily grateful that I was born in this place in this time.  For most of the history of our world women weren’t entitled to their opinions.  Hell, there are whole parts of the globe where the notion that women should be seen and not heard in not only accepted, but lauded.  The scariest part of this book, for me, is that they had advanced as a society past women’s rights and gay rights, but then somehow all of that was abolished and everyone’s rights were revoked.  The very basis of rights is that they are inalienable and therefore un-revoke-able, but in Spotwood’s world they did it with terrifying results.  The amount of stress Cate faces in this book is haunting in large part because of her revoked rights.  She gets angry about it and generally looks at it as the hypocritical bullshit that it is which serves to strengthen her character and make her into a Real Human Being.

As to the story, it’s gut wrenching.  There’s so much mystery and intrigue swirling throughout, but it never gets bogged down.  It feels like a dead sprint to the end because I needed to know.  Spotswood paints a vivid setting that lends the story further realism, but it’s her characters that really make the story.  I fell in love with them immediately, investing in their safety and well being whole heartedly.

I was surprised with how much I loved this story.  It’s spellbinding and lyrical, but urgent and tense at the same time.  I’m already looking forward to book 2.

4 ink bottles.

Book Links:  GoodreadsPublisher

Book Trailer:

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