Born Wicked was an eagerly awaited book for me so I was really pleased when I was able to get a copy from the UK publishers to review though it’s sadly taken me a lot longer to review than I hoped.
Born Wicked is set in a world where witchcraft is real and witches are hunted and I would class this as an alternative historical novel as it’s set at the late nineteenth/turn of the twentieth century. Cate and her two sisters have been hiding their abilities for years as they would face an asylum, prison ship or even death if the Brotherhood found out they were witches. Before Cate’s mother died, she promised to protect her sisters, however this is proving harder than she thought, especially as she approaches the time in which she needs to decide if she’s joining the Sisterhood or will be getting married. The discovery of her mother’s diary, however, forces her to face up to the powers she tries to suppress and hints at a future danger she did not see coming.
Cate’s a character who has to grow up before her time and often casts herself in a more maternal role for her sisters. She is clearly threatened (and not just for the obvious reasons of trying to evade detection) when her father invites a member of the Sisterhood to act as a tutor for Cate and her sisters to ready them for society. I also found her difficulties in accepting her powers well explored and interesting.
There is a strong romantic element to Born Wicked as Cate is pursued by both Finn, a local book keeper, and Cate’s childhood friend Paul who is now her suitor and lives in the capital city. For me, there was a much stronger chemistry between Cate and Finn than I ever felt I read with Cate and Paul.
Cate’s sisters are well evoked and written, though the strongest of them for me in terms of characterisation was Maura. Maura felt the most real to me with her craving for love and to be recognised in her own right and how blind to reality this makes her. The possible prophecy concerning them is something of a trope in paranormal YA, particularly when combined with the found diary aspect, however while I was reading Born Wicked this did not affect my experience, which was overall highly enjoyable.
Born Wicked is an intriguing and compelling novel that will appeal to both historical and paranormal fans. Spotswood creates a vivid world for her characters and through this brings up several important issues around gender and equality in a non-didactic way. I really enjoyed Born Wicked and I’m definitely looking forward to its sequel.
I received a free review copy from the publishers, Penguin UK, for my honest reviewing purposes. Born Wicked is available to buy now.