Review: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Born Wicked
By Jessica Spotswood
330 Pages
Published by Putnam Juvenille

Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they’re witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave.

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word… especially after she finds her mother’s diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family’s destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren’t safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other.

Reimagined history? Yes. Witches? Yes. Reimagined history with witches? YES PLEASE.

Born Wicked kind of reminded me of an old school Charmed in a lot of ways, only much more interesting. It’s got three sisters, all of whom are witches, whose powers were inherited from their mother, and they must keep their abilities a secret lest they be discovered by a less-than-accepting public. But while the sisters on Charmed went out of their way to fight demons and were actively pursued by otherworldly creatures, the danger to the sisters in Born Wicked was a much more realistic danger – that of other human beings. They lived in a time and place where witches were seen as consorts of the devil and nobody would have batted an eyelash had they been burned at the stake or hanged.

Born Wicked has some really great characters. Cate is a pretty awesome heroine. She’s prickly and has no tolerance for stupid giggly girls, so basically she’s me if I had magical powers and lived in an alt-history New England. And had sisters. And house servants. And gardened. OK, we’re not all that much alike. But we both hate the stupid. And Finn? THIS IS HOW BOOK BOYS SHOULD BE DONE, OK? He’s brave and has morals and isn’t afraid to make sacrifices to be with Cate.

Conversely, it also has some really hateable characters. That The Brothers were intensely hateable goes without saying, because they’re basically the equivalent of today’s rotten assholes who want to persecute people based on religion or sexual orientation or any other thing that they deem different and somehow lesser. Even more hateable, however, were Elena and the Sisterhood. Yes. Because they represented everything they claimed to be fighting against. I don’t want to get too spoilery, but at least The Brotherhood were up front in their lust for power and douchebaggery. Pretending to be serving some greater good when you’re really just the same old douchebags is much worse. These characters were all well-written, though. I know that because rarely do fictional characters illicit such feelings of rage in me. Seriously, the end of this book made me want to Godzilla-stomp all over a small city.

I need the sequel.

4.25/5 Stars

Leave a comment


  1. Awesome review! I cant wait to read this!

  2. lauren0025

     /  March 26, 2012

    Charmed, Secret Circle BTVS’s Willow, I love everything witches, especially in literature. This book sounds very promising!

    Great review 🙂

  3. lauren0025

     /  March 26, 2012

    Charmed, Secret Circle, BTVS’s Willow, I love “everything” witches, especially in literature (SWEEP). Thanks for sharing your review! This books sounds very promising 🙂

  4. I loved this book too! I’m a fan of witchy stories so this one was sort of a given, but it had so much more! Loved the Alternate history (Middle eastern woman are the epitome of fashion, whaaat?) and loved Finn (bookish, smart guys are hot) and loved all the twists and turns (you are right, The Sisterhood is definitely NOT what they seem.) Loved it all, can’t wait for book 2! Awesome review Karen:)


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