Monday, February 20, 2012
Cate Protects Her Sisters in BORN WICKED by Jessica Spotswood
In Born Wicked, Jessica Spotswood has created a brilliant and believable alternate history. New England was once governed by witches, but by the late 1800's the Brotherhood rules the province. Women have been stripped of all rights and witchcraft is the highest crime, punished by life-long imprisonment. Before their seventeenth birthday, girls must declare their intention to either marry or join the Sisterhood, a convent of devout women.
Cate Cahill is approaching her seventeenth birthday and in making her choice she thinks only of what will keep her sisters safe. Because Cate and her two younger sisters are witches. Since their mother's death it has fallen to Cate to protect them from the Brotherhood and ensure their magic remains a secret. But when Cate falls for Finn, the subversive scholar, Cate must choose between love and safety.
I love the relationship between the three sisters. The affection and rivalry between them feels so real. I'm also a fan of the hot kissing scenes (closets! gazebos! feathers!) and Finn is definitely a swoon-worthy love interest. Oh and I loved the ending! Actually, it broke my heart, but it broke my heart so effectively. I can't wait for the sequel.
I'm most impressed with how Spotswood built the suspense and secrecy. Among the corsets, gas lamps, and horse-drawn carriages the tension was as thick as in any spy novel. Cate is compelled to protect her sisters and cannot trust anyone with their secret. Each time her magic is revealed, my heart hammered in my chest, because it was inevitable someone would betray her and every character has secrets of their own.
The Brotherhood is also eerily familiar in today's political climate. Watching Congress hearings on contraception, the Brotherhood's supremacy doesn't seem so far-fetched. And that is Spotswood's brilliance. She's given us a fun novel in a historical setting with magic, kissing, and political undertones so subtle I didn't really think about them until days after I'd finished the book. Born Wicked is first and foremost a magical and romantic read, but like all great novels, I know I'll find a lot more to think about upon rereading it.
Oh, and for those in the Houston area, Jessica will be at Blue Willow Bookshop on Wednesday 2/22 as part of the Breathless Reads Tour. I can't wait to meet her!