*This review will contain spoilers!*
If you haven't read my review for the first book in the Cahill Witch Chronicles series, 'Born Wicked', you should probably go and do that! If you can't be bothered I'll just give you a little summary. 'Born Wicked' tells the story of the three Cahill sisters, Cate, Maura and Tess, who are all witches. Their family is tied up in a prophecy which claims that one of the three sisters will lead the witches back to power, while one of them will die before the turn of the century (with this book being set in 1897, the turn of the century is pretty damn close). At the end of the novel, Cate gets pressured into moving to New London to live at a convent filled with witches, sacrificing her engagement to her first love, Finn Belastra. While finishing that review I openly speculated about where the next book in the series was going to go, and whether it was going to be more filler than killer.
Sadly, I was right to question it. The first hundred pages or so are really amazing - we join Cate at the Sisterhood and we get thrown right into action with her and two fellow witches, Alice and Mei, delivering food to a poor woman who then gets taken away by the Brothers - and it picks up speed from there with the arrival of the Brothers for the yearly Council meetings in New London. Getting to see Sachi and Rory again was an unexpected but pleasant surprise, and the reunion of Cate and Finn (and a few chapters later, Cate and her sisters) was emotional but expected.
However, from there, it all just seemed to slow down too much. An argument between Cate and Maura gives Cate the idea of rescuing all of the prisoners from Harwood, the asylum for criminals that was repeatedly referenced throughout the first book, and from the conception of the idea it takes a lot of time to work out, and eventually go through with, the plan. The scenes written in Harwood throughout the novel are emotionally devastating - hearing what the girls were going through filled me with an extreme sense of empathy - but meeting Zara, Cate's godmother, was brilliant because she was one of the most interesting characters before we had even come face to face with her, and for her to end up being such a strong and enigmatic person was brilliantly written.
Other than the Harwood plot, the rest of the novel just seemed like little things to put here and there to push the book along to the end. It was nice to get more information about the daily workings of the Sisterhood, and then the revelation that Tess was the oracle was a surprise, but the end of the novel is such a cliffhanger that it makes you need to pick up the third book, which hopefully will have more action in it. The sisters failed rescue mission of the prisoners of rioting just exasperated me - if no prophecies have ever been beaten it should have been obvious to them that they hadn't avoided the problem and had rather exacerbated it - but perhaps that was just because of how high my hopes were after the triumph of the first novel in the series. The last fifty pages of the novel - focussing upon the Harwood rescue mission - was the most exciting part of the novel, but when contrasted with Maura's mission to wipe the minds of the members of the Head Council of Brothers, I found myself yearning to see exactly what was going on there, because I think it could have been more exciting to read about. Zara's death did not surprise me, but the fact that no other main characters died just left me feeling quite emotionally unaffected, because even with the loss of one, the gain of many means that Zara's death won't have as much of an impact upon Cate as it would have if she had lost Zara and Sachi or Rory. I was shocked by Maura wiping Finn's memory, but I was quite confused on why Cate couldn't just restore them, because in all of the other scenes with Cate and Maura performing magic, Cate has been able to undo Maura's spells because they are weaker and easier to break. This query might be resolved in the last book, but until I get to read it it's going to really bug me.
I'm still going to read the third book, 'Sisters' Fate' because I still have extremely high hopes for it, even though my enjoyment of this novel dipped below my expectations. The battle for power of Cate and Tess vs. Maura and Sister Inez should be explosive, and it'll be interesting to see if they can resolve it before any of the sisters come of age, but I'm mostly excited for the Brothers vs. Sisters war - whether the Brothers will attempt to resurrect the burnings, which side of the battle the public will throw down their support. The question of which sister will die is still at the forefront of my mind, and I don't want to sound heartless when I say that I hope that it's Maura, but because of the fact that they've all grown and developed so much as characters even their annoying traits are seeming slightly endearing to me, which proves that Jessica Spotswood has a way of writing personalities that is almost addictive. It'll be interesting to see how the dynamic between Cate and Finn changes, now that he's completely forgotten their relationship, and whether they can ever be the same couple that they were before Maura took his memories, so there is a lot to look forward to in this coming novel, which I should hopefully be purchasing when the paperback is released in May. Keep an eye out for the review when it comes, even though it's going to be a good couple of months, because I'm ninety nine per cent certain it's going to be a success!