Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"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.
What I Liked: Born Wicked has an incredible atmospheric presence that sucks you right in and holds you under its spell. Some of the other reviewers complain that it's a little slow in the beginning, and it's true, but it was almost like being in a beautiful museum--there might not be much going on to start off, but the architecture is so striking you barely notice the time pass.
Going back to the slow start--YA as a genre has trained us to have a short attention span, always beginning by dropping us in the middle of a war or a plague, but Spotswood is just taking her time to set up the layers which will really, REALLY matter later on. Trust me, it's worth taking your time to read.
On the subject of those layers, the conflict is deliciously multi-faceted. Cate isn't just stuck between a rock and a hard place--she's stuck between a rock, a hard place, the frying pan, the fire...she can make no choice without tremendous sacrifice. I didn't even realize how completely involved I was until she finally did make her choice, and I jumped up out of my chair and walked away, clutching my head.
What I Didn't: The Sisterhood could have used a little fleshing out. I understood the obvious influence and power of the Brotherhood, but I could have used a few more examples of the malevolency of the Sisterhood, so their threats didn't fall so flat in my mind.
Overall: A solid, beautiful book. I'll be continuing with this series for sure.
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