Wednesday, 10 December 2014

'Born Wicked' (Cahill Witch Chronicles #1) by Jessica Spotswood

*This review will contain spoilers!*

I set myself an aim to read fifty pages of a book every day, and sometimes that is a struggle. I find it hard to focus a lot of the time, so I will scrape through my fifty pages just before I go to sleep and I will feel a sense of achievement from my day. However, with 'Born Wicked', I've read just under 350 pages in just over a day - that is testament enough of how super-spectacular-amazing I found this book. 

"Back in Great-Grandmother's day, the Brotherhood burned girls like us."

'Born Wicked' tells us the story of Cate, Maura and Tess, three sisters who are witches. Their mother was also a witch, but because she passed away years before they don't know a lot about their powers and they don't understand their potential, meaning we start the novel with a lot of confusion about who they are conflicting with who they should be. Because this novel is set in the late 1800's, society is a hell of a lot different to how it is now, and women have to declare the man they will marry or pledge their allegiance to the Sisterhood before their seventeenth birthday. Similarly, 'women who are too opinionated or too educated, too old or too curious, are punished' which makes it an extremely dangerous place to be a woman, specifically a woman who has magical powers and two younger sisters who also have powers and are much more willing to use them. 
In some ways, the girls situation is extremely similar to the situation all teenagers nowadays experience at the end of their college education - having to decide which university they want to go to, and what career they would like to embark upon for the rest of their lives, when they hardly even know themselves, instead of needing to get married at such a young age - but because of the misogyny and sexism that run rampant through the Brotherhoods treatment of women, I am beyond grateful that we live in the time we are in currently. Yes, there have been some incidents recently that have greatly pushed back feelings of equality, but overall we are living in a much more equal world than has ever existed before, so I empathised greatly with the Cahill sisters plight. 
Because of the fact that the situation could be so easily equated into modern day situations, I was almost grateful for the historical inaccuracies that made the characters seem so much more modernised. I wasn't alive in the 1800's, so I don't exactly know how they would have spoken, but described yourself as having a 'mad crush' on someone wasn't likely to be in their day to day vocabulary and similarly, from what I've researched, the women's vote was not introduced in Dubai until the 2000's, so wanting to escape there for greater freedom wouldn't have exactly worked (but please, correct me on this if I'm wrong, I couldn't find specific year information). Usually that kind of thing would really irritate me, but in all honesty I enjoyed the story of 'Born Wicked' so much that I could look over little things that would normally really grind my gears. 
When Cate discovered the prophecy that claimed that there would be three magical sisters, one of whom would be able to perform mind magic and would be the most powerful witch in centuries, it really pushes the story forward and definitely gives it a lot more excitement. I was appreciative of the fact that it seemed obvious that the chosen one was Cate to start with, but that by the end of the novel we were guessing which sister could be the most powerful as they are all bestowed with such promising magic. It was an interesting twist to make them all be capable of mind magic, because that was something I didn't see coming, and it's made me extremely eager to pick up the next two books in the series ('Star Cursed' and 'Sisters' Fate' respectively) as 'Born Wicked' really feels like the start to something magical (excuse my pun). Whereas some first books in series end at a point where it doesn't feel necessary to read the second novel, this is definitely an exception to that rule - having Cate suddenly up and leave to the Sisterhood makes me extremely intrigued about what goes on in New London, how her sisters will feel now that she's left them and whether her and her (I suppose, ex) fiancĂ© Finn will ever manage to be together. 
The only thing that really annoyed me during this novel was the faux-love triangle. I guess it could have seemed real, but because Cate was so sure about her non-feelings towards Paul, it was difficult to empathise with her when she decided to kiss him anyway and then immediately felt extremely guilty for betraying Finn. Add to that the fact that she promised Paul she wouldn't go off and marry anyone else, then didn't even consider her promise to him when her and Finn eventually got engaged, and I just felt extremely frustrated at her in a way that I didn't feel throughout the rest of the novel. Apart from her indecisiveness about her romantic choices, Cate is an all-round great character, perfectly portraying the struggle between making choices to protect your family and making choices for yourself, and I think Jessica Spotswood wrote the novel very cleverly because it really makes you question what you would do in that same situation. 
Similarly, Tess is a brilliant character - having a younger sister who became extremely mature, verging on the leader of the house, throughout the course of the novel was a nice touch - and the only sister that I didn't really like was Maura. I tried to like her, really I did, because the fact that she was always reading and had such high hopes for her sister getting her happily ever after was extremely endearing, but with the climax of the novel culminating around Maura throwing the witchy equivalent of a temper tantrum I was left feeling exasperated and irritated by her. I really hope she can redeem herself over the next two novels, because if not I'm going to be left feeling quite frustrated. 
I'm anxious about where the next book is going to go, because if there is too much of Cate being isolated at the Sisterhood I think it could really drag, and I find that sometimes the second book in a trilogy is used to build up to the climactic confrontation in the final novel, and I really hope that doesn't happen in this series because it would be a huge disappointment. With the prophecy promising that one of the sisters is going to kill another, I'm pretty sure I'm going to be on tenterhooks throughout most of the second novel, but I've got my hopes set pretty high for a great read. I really want to see Cate and Finn back together, so I have all of my fingers crossed for that, as they're one of the most stable relationships I've read in YA recently (despite the fact that they said they loved each other for the first time and got engaged less than an hour later) and it'll be interesting to see how, and if, their relationship would work with Finn being the newest member of the Brotherhood. 
I'll be reading 'Star Cursed' over the next couple of days, so if it's anything like 'Born Wicked', look out for my review of it either tomorrow or Friday! 

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