Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood is not a book I had heard of until fairly recently when I saw all the buzz it created across the pond. It was getting rave reviews from fellow book bloggers and this together with the synopsis definitely piqued my interest and so I ordered the hardback. Born Wicked is a historical novel set in New England at the turn of the 20th century. It centres around the Cahill family - a father and his 3 daughters who were born witches at a time when witchcraft is strictly forbidden. I have to say that I don’t tend to read a lot of historical books and I have absolutely no idea why as I loved this book! The story was simple yet effective and the characters were believable, especially given the setting and time period. This book really took me by surprise. Here’s the synopsis:
“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.”
Born Wicked is set in a community that is dominated by the Brotherhood, at a time when women were controlled, oppressed and expected to obey men. On top of that, God help you if you displayed any attributes of witchcraft. Anyone suspected of being a witch is sent to the asylum, carted off on a prison ship or sometimes they simply “disappear” altogether. To be honest though, I think sometimes witchcraft was used an excuse to get rid of a woman who had committed what was a sin in the brotherhood’s eyes or indeed done anything that they did not like or approve of. My goodness, how stifling and what a great reminder of how much freedom women have in today’s society for which I am truly thankful!
What’s interesting to me about the setting is that only female witches are mentioned and I am curious to know if there were any male witches around at that time. If the community only ever suspected women, what a fabulous way for men to practice the craft under the radar so to speak. I’d actually quite like a book like that *makes notes*.
The beginning of Born Wicked reminded me somewhat of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and I think this was solely based on the relationship between the three sisters which I found very believable. Cate, who is our main protagonist, is the oldest sister and as such, she is a girl full of responsibilities and duty especially since the passing of her mother. She is a very practical girl and likes to busy herself with gardening which is where she meets Finn, the young boy taken on as the family gardener and he shares the same sense of responsibility and duty to take care of his family. We need to throw the boy next door into the mix at this point – he has grown up with the sisters and it has always been expected that Cate would marry him. It is at this point that I immediately want to start singing “there may be trouble ahead”. What I really enjoyed about the boys in Born Wicked is that they are both nice guys, it’s just that only one of them was right for Cate and you’ll just have to read the book to find out which one that is ;)
There is one particular scene in the book that stands out for me and without telling you exactly what it is, I will tell you that it just might be included in the trailer below and could possibly include feathers (and no, this is not a replica of Edward and Bella’s honeymoon, heaven forbid!)
I really enjoyed Born Wicked which was beautifully written and I thought the dialogue was superb. I would argue that there is no cliffhanger as such, it’s just that things went down a little differently to what was expected and ultimately, this leaves a lot of questions unanswered, ready for a sequel to come along. I know for sure there will be another book and tentative dates for publication are February, 2013. Born Wicked reads like a modern day classic for me and one that is sure to be enjoyed for many years to come.
Born Wicked was published in the US on 7th February, 2012 and is due to be published in the UK in January, 2013. To find out more about Jessica and her book, please click here to visit her website where you can also read the first two chapters FOR FREE.