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.
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I'll admit, I was a bit nervous to read this book. Not because I didn't think I'd like it, or because it's not my type of read. Indeed, it sounds like an amazing book and who wouldn't love that gorgeous cover? Born Wicked was one of my coveted "must reads" for 2012 simply because of the cover. It killed me to wait two weeks past its debut date to buy it, but I knew Jessica would be in town for the Breathless Reads tour, and I wanted to buy it then.
Jessica and I struck up a friendly correspondence on Twitter in January (yay for social media!) and I've come to really like her. She's sweet, witty, enthusiastic, and passionate. What's not to like? We even arranged to meet for lunch the day she was here for the Breathless Reads tour, but their schedule was so hectic, it was impossible. Still, it was an honor that she would even consider having lunch with me, and is yet another testament to her generous, warm nature.
So, you may be asking: What's the deal, BlookGirl? You loved the cover, you loved the synopsis, and you've fangirled over Jessica. What made you nervous to read the book?
That's just it! It's because of all those things I was nervous, but moreso because I really came to like Jessica. I know that sounds odd, but the whole situation got me thinking... If you have the opportunity to become familiar and friendly with an author before reading their novel, do you enter the reading and reviewing phases with a more "forgiving" point of view? I mean, do you unconsciously overlook obvious plot holes, Mary Sue characters, or other glaring errors? I know it sounds silly, but I was worried, because I think as a blogger, integrity is key.
Thankfully, though, my worries were for nothing because Born Wicked was FABULOUS! It was so fabulous in fact, that I'll be giving away a signed copy of Born Wicked to a lucky reader! So, keep reading...
A Brief Overview:
Left motherless, the Cahill sisters have closed themselves off from society, afraid of what could happen if the Brotherhood discovered that they are all witches. Mr. Cahill is a loving, but distracted father, more prone to spending time with his studies and away from home than with his family. That leaves the eldest Cahill sister, Cate, to preside over the household and her sisters - which she does with much chagrin. Cate never asked to be a witch, to be left motherless, or to care for her two younger, headstrong sisters. Maura and Tess do not feel the same sense of urgency that Cate does when it comes to their magical heritage. They want to practice and hone their skills, but Cate is the only one who fully appreciates what could happen if they were to be outed.
Set in an alternate Victorian period, circa 1890, New England is ruled by the Brotherhood, a group of patriarchal priests who are determined to rid the country of witches and witchery. They have spies everywhere and will persecute any young girl who steps out of line. If a girl is thought to be a witch, they face one of two outcomes: a lifetime in an asylum, or worse yet, death. All "good girls" are expected to declare their intentions by their seventeenth birthday: either marry or join the Sisterhood.
Six months before she turns seventeen, Cate is sure she will choose to marry. Joining the Sisterhood would mean moving away from her sisters, who she believes need her now more than ever. Plus, her old childhood friend, Paul, has returned to town from his studies in the city and makes his intentions toward marrying Cate well-known. He is sweet and understanding, and even her family supports the union, but Cate just isn't sure about the whole love bit. Paul doesn't make her heart flutter - much unlike the Cahill's new gardener, Finn Belastra, who is also the son of the local book store owner.
Finn is smart, loyal, kind, witty, and most of all, accepting of Cate and her... weirdness. However, he is also just a gardener, and not the man Cate would have envisioned falling in love with, but she just can't ignore her blossoming feelings (and garden!) every time Finn is nearby. Growing up in a community that breeds distrust of your neighbor, and where one wrong move can cost you your life, can Cate trust Finn -and his mother- with her family secrets?
And boy, do secrets abound in Born Wicked! Not only does Cate have secrets, but so does every other character, it seems! I really enjoyed having to guess at the true nature and intentions of each character, though we still have a lot more to learn in Book #2. The ending was...!!
The story of the Cahill sisters is narrated by Cate, the oldest. I must say, I really loved Cate and her "voice" throughout the novel. She is fiery, independent, and fiercely loyal to Maura and Tess. She doesn't bend to anyone's will, but will sacrifice herself for the good of her sisters. I also love that the girls are not perfect. They make rash decisions, argue with each other and make mistakes, but they continue to learn and grow, and I can't wait to see what's in store for them in the future.
I really loved how Jessica portrayed the relationship between the Cahill sisters. Even though I grew up with two older brothers, somehow the dynamic between Cate, Maura and Tess just seems right. Tess is probably my second-favorite sister, though I am now dying to know what happens with Maura. Trust me, your mind will be going a million miles a minute at the end, trying to figure out what will happen next.
I think my favorite aspect of Born Wicked was the unfolding of the relationship between Cate and Finn. It was so, so swoon-worthy! Seriously, when you get to the "feathers" part, I fully expect you to come back to this review and fangirl with me! Paul is a sweet guy, and while I suspect Cate won't end up with him in the end, I hope we learn more about him in Book #2.
Also, I am very curious to learn more about Mr. Cahill. There just has to be something going on with his precious banned books and why he's away so much.
There isn't a ton of action in Born Wicked, but Jessica did a fine job at keeping me turning the pages. I just know the rest of the series will only get better!
Born Wicked is a book full of page-turning suspense, with romance, magic and secrets at every turn. It explores the complicated relationship between sisters, as well as the importance of separation of church, and is a reminder that not everything -or everyone- are what they seem. This is definitely one of my favorite reads of 2012!
Because I love Born Wicked so much, and because I appreciate Jessica's friendship and want to spread the love for her debut novel, I am giving away a SIGNED COPY of Born Wicked, with multiple ways to enter and win! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below and good luck! :-)