Book Review: Born Wicked

Born Wicked (The Cahill Witch Chronicles #1)
Published By: Putnam Juvenile
Publication Date: February 2012
Page Count: 330
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Audience: Young Adult - Paranormal, Witches

Don't you just want to frame this cover and put it on the wall? I LOVE it. I try not to let covers sway me on books - there are so many with horrible covers that contain such gems - but I have to admit that I was partially excited to read this one because of the cover. Yes, I was tempted by the pretty face. However, I was also pleased to find that the inside of this one is just as appealing as the exterior. Jessica Spotswood might just be my favorite 2012 debut author so far. She delivers a gorgeous story full of magic, danger, and romance.

Born Wicked felt like a hybrid - part historical, part paranormal, and part women's fiction. I loved that the book conjured issues and images of the Salem Witch Trials, but was set in a totally different era. The Cahill women live in the late 1800's as the 20 century looms in the not so distant future. A prophecy hangs over  the heads of the three powerful Cahill sisters: Cate, Maura, and Tess. I loved each one of the sisters. The story is dominated by Cate's point of view, but readers do get glimpses into the actions and motivations of Maura and Tess as Cate is a keen observer.

Cate is one of the biggest strengths of this novel. I loved her - partly because she shares some of my same qualities. Family drives every decision she makes and she will go to any length to keep her sisters safe. I feel the same way about my siblings. Cate's relationship with Maura also reminded me a lot of my relationship with my younger sister. Like Cate, I want to protect my sister from herself and help her make good choices. However, like Maura, my sister is stubborn and chooses to forge her own path - no matter how many obstacles stand in her way. Cate and Maura also bicker back and forth a bit - another familiar element.

I loved how prominent the theme of devotion was throughout this novel. It not only appears in the sisterly bond between the Cahill sisters, but also in the romantic elements. I won't speak on those in detail because I don't want to spoil anyone, but I really enjoyed watching the relationships unfold.

Another major theme in this one is the concept of the female as sinful. Women in this world have to hide their magical abilities or they will be arrested by the Brotherhood. Men dominate this society and women are to be seen and not heard. There is quite a bit of symbolism running throughout the novel. It provides some interesting musings. I know that I couldn't survive in a world like this - every single detail is chosen by male relatives or the Brotherhood. I was so angry that women were not allowed to decide their own fates.

I read this one a bit slower than my normal pace because I wanted to savor it. I loved spending time in this world with Cate, Maura, and Tess. The ending of this one left me craving the next book. Born Wicked is a strong debut that will surely spark an addictive series.

One Last Gripe: I wish that Cate's father had been more of a presence. He just seemed to leave everything on the shoulder of his eldest daughter.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: The Witch Lore

First Sentence: Our mother was a witch, too, but she hid it better.

Favorite Character: Cate

Least Favorite Character: Mrs. Corbett

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.


  1. Thanks for sharing the awesome review! :) I've had this one on my list since I first saw the cover; I really need to get a copy!

    1. I love the font, the angle, the colors, everything! :)

    2. I love the way the colors of the flowers pop. The flowers are also really significant to one of the characters.

  2. Oh my.. That cover is really beautiful.. I would love to have that one as a poster.. Maybe one should make a museum with gorgeous covers.. Anyway: Thank you for spotlighting this book.. Will see whether I can get a copy..

    1. I would love to have this as a poster too. I've considered framing book covers in my office, but haven't gotten around to it. I hope you're able to get a copy!

  3. so, so pretty. is it similar at all to libba bray's gemma doyle series?

    1. To be honest, I don't know. I tried to get into the Gemma Doyle books and the first one didn't hold my interest. This one I couldn't put down.

    2. I can say that Jessica's writing style is very different than Libba's. I enjoy them both though for different reasons. I really like that Jessica's world is like a revisionist history.

  4. Replies
    1. It truly is! Born Wicked is one of my favorite books of 2012.

  5. The cover had got me. And reading your review, I know this will be a good read. So wicked!Love the trailer.

    1. I love the part in the book that has the feathers. Stop back by and chat once you've had a chance to read it. I'd love to hear your thoughts.


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