Friday, May 25, 2012

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

How gorgeous is this cover? It’s probably one of new favorite YA covers. The cover along with the fact that this is a witch story, and along with the fact that a large amount of bloggers I like really enjoyed this one, encouraged me to buy it.
It wasn’t what I was expecting. I want to call it a historical novel, but it’s not really. It has all the problems a historical piece would provide for the female characters. Women are meant to be wives or part of a religious sisterhood. Powerful women (witches or women who could be witches because they seem too smart or brave) are arrested, locked up, or sent to labor camps. Women have to wear fashionable and constrictive outfits. And they also literally have to lower themselves around the presence of the brotherhood. But, it’s not a historical piece because of the supernatural element, and also because the brotherhood/sisterhood thing just never happened.
The brotherhood is the group in charge. And from what I gathered, they are pissed at witches because a few of them were able to use mind control powers to really run society for a while. And Cate Cahill is one of the few who knows how to use mind control. She keeps this ability hidden from everyone. She has two younger sisters that she has pretty much been taking care of since their mother died several years ago. The father is out of town on business much of the time. All three girls can use magic.
It’s not until the suggestion of a governess is brought up that Cate begins to see how dangerous her lifestyle has become. She notices that the brotherhood has been going after sisters (particularly sisters of three). She also notices that the lack of fashion, blendability, and outness in society for the Cahills, makes them stick out and sticking out to the Brotherhood is never good.
The governess comes around the same time a mysterious letter from a friend of their mother does. Soon, Cate is caught up in a witch prophecy that can prove to be the end of the brotherhood. And between the love triangle, the secret books, the wonderfully rebellious bookstore, the magic mishaps, the sisterly arguments, some gardening, and a lot of fake prayer, there is an authentic story of family and sacrifice. Cate really would give anything up to protect her sisters.
Cate has a lot of decisions to make: marry someone or join the sisterhood. Listen to her governess or her instinct. Marry one guy or a different guy. Protect herself or protect her sisters. And I can’t help but think she always (or almost always) makes the decisions I wanted her to. And I liked her a lot for being so strong and for being such a good sister.
I hated one of the sisters and frankly, would not have sacrificed what Cate did for someone so awful. I also hated the governess. I wanted to like her more. I wish her offer was more appealing or that she handled things more maturely. She just felt like a character that would have seemed more real and relatable if she wasn’t all bad.
I loved the guys! I loved the house staff. I loved the other witches Cate becomes friends with. I loved the youngest sister. I loved the whole sorty of dystopia-type sisterhood and brotherhood. I loved all the witch secrets. I loved all the scenes where the girls couldn’t control their magic. The ending was so good! I was on the edge of my seat for those last twenty pages or so.
I just wish I was on the edge of my seat a little bit earlier. I felt like a lot of the beginning of the book was not necessary and a lot of things took too long to happen. Everything sort of seemed to happen at the very end. And while I get that some things need time to build, like true love, other things could have happened sooner, like trusting the youngest sister. In other words there was a little too much sisterly conflict and not enough action for me.
Despite the slow writing style, I really did enjoy this book. It definitely was a different kind of witch story. And I want, no need to know how certain things will resolve. I will definitely keeping reading these. And this gets a 8/10.

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