Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Cate Cahill and her two younger sisters, Maura and Tess, are witches—and it’s not safe to be a witch in 19th century New England. The Brotherhood and the Sisterhood have risen to power after the overthrow of the Daughters of Persephone years ago, following a war that ended in bloodshed and the elimination of all known witches. Luckily Cate, ever since the death of her mother, has perfected the art of concealing her family’s magic, protecting them from imprisonment and scorn. But the day of Cate’s Intention Ceremony—her seventeenth birthday, the day when she must either express her intent to marry a man or join the Sisterhood—is fast approaching. Both choices will lead her away from her vulnerable sisters. Both choices suppress the freedom she longs to have.

Born Wicked is an alternate-history, paranormal romance, and coming-of-age story. England has colonized the east of what we know as America, Indo-China the west, and Spain the south. Cate has a lovely romance with the charming, not of her social class, Finn Belastra, who makes her magic go haywire whenever they kiss. Cate herself is a mostly likable heroine, if a little frustrating in her somewhat detrimental worrying and secret-keeping (it seems like most problems could be solved if she just let other people in on some of the burdensome secrets she discovers). Nevertheless, the novel is well-written and well-plotted, fast-paced and romantic.

The best part of the book is the chemistry between Cate and Finn. They sizzle nicely. However, overall, the romance is missing that necessary spark that makes a love story memorable. The alternate history about the colonization of America by Indo-China and Spain is explained in two paragraphs. The magic is four or five single Latin words. The ideas are there, but they aren’t detailed or complex enough to make this book fantastic.

I will read the next book because of the cliffhanger ending (which I despised as it left the book incomplete to me) and because I did end up caring for Cate, Finn, and Tess. I’m curious to see what comes next.


If Axie were a book, she would be a young adult one featuring a kick-butt heroine in a fantastical setting, or maybe a middle-grade one about a boy coming-of-age (even though she is a 21 year old female). She likes to eat, watch shows (reality t.v., Korean dramas, and anime), read, read, read, sleep, and then dream (in that order). You probably can’t find her lolling about online, since her online presence is sorely lacking, but she is very friendly and would speak to you if you spoke to her. 

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