Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood. Grades 7 and up. G.P. Putnam's Sons, February 2012. 327 pages. Reviewed from ARC provided by publisher.
The Cahill sisters have a secret: just like their late mother, they have magic. If the Brothers knew, they would arrest them all and send them away. Cate's determined to protect her sisters, just as she promised her mother. But with her intention day looming, Cate's got some big decisions to make. Should she marry, even though it means she would move to the city and leave her sisters to fend for themselves? Can she face joining the Sisterhood instead? Does she even love the one man who has proposed to her? And are the Cahill sisters the subject of a dire prophecy that foretells one of them changing the world forever?
I found Born Wicked to be an unexpected delight and now (of course), I'm clamoring for the next book (and the first one hasn't even been released yet... woe is me ;).
It started off a little slow, or maybe I was just concentrating too hard on piecing together the setting and the society. Born Wicked is set in Maine in the late 19th century, after most of the witches who immigrated to America for religious freedom had been killed off or gone into hiding. Once I got a grip on the world, I was quickly caught up in Cate's romantic intrigues and the mystery surrounding the prophecy. The romance was definitely swoon-worthy, even though it's not graphic. As Cate wavers between two potential suitors, the tension mounts and Jessica Spotswood builds it perfectly. The twists and turns in the story kept me on my toes and kept me turning the pages and I'll definitely be seeking out the next book in the series.
I'd definitely hand this debut to teens who dig stories about witches and magic. It'll satisfy those who can't get enough of the paranormal romance books and I might also try it on fans of The Luxe by Anna Godbersen and Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan.
A note on the cover: Okay, it's pretty. But a photo of a girl laying in the grass in her skivvies under the title BORN WICKED... I guess my mind goes to bad places. (Although that might be the very thing that entices teens to pick it up...)
Born Wicked will be on shelves February 7!