“Blessed with a gift…”cursed” with a secret.”
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.
I’ve only actively been listening to audiobooks for a short time, but I feel like I’ve developed a good sense of what kind of stories are best enjoyed by reading them rather than listening to them. Because Born Wicked is not an overly complex novel, it’s the perfect kind of story to listen to as an audiobook.
I’m not really a big fan of historical fantasy or witches, but I LOVED Born Wicked. The narrator was fantastic and did an excellent job of keeping me hooked, though there were a few times I thought her voice sounded a bit like a Chipettes‘. But that didn’t bother me at all, especially when I considered the story’s setting.
My favorite thing about Born Wicked was the prose. At times, it was tender, almost delicate, yet it was also fierce and full of conviction when it needed to be. Spotswood’s writing style reminded me of Laura Whitcomb’s A Certain Slant of Light, which is one of my favorite novels. Both used language in a deliciously exquisite and rich way to illustrate the time period that the characters were from. The only difference I noticed is that Spotswood tended to continuously repeat certain phrases or words that aren’t very common today, but perhaps that wouldn’t have been as obvious had I read the story instead of listen to it.
Thinking of the era in which Born Wicked takes place, I’d even call Cate a young Lily Bart, because she was such a spitfire, with a quick temper and a proud attitude. But unlike Lily, Cate wasn’t selfish or dim. She had a sharp mind, and she constantly worried about her sisters or what would become of them if their secret was discovered.
The romance wasn’t enough for my taste, but it was still very sweet. For a while it seemed like it was headed towards a love triangle, but that wasn’t the case, much to my relief. Still, the way Cate was separated from her choice was heartbreaking.
I can’t say I noticed anything significant about the side characters, only that they all played their part well. Yes, I usually prefer more substance in secondary characters, but I didn’t mind the way they were used here because the focus fell on Cate, and I genuinely liked her. I was enchanted by her struggles, her burden, her inability to trust, her outbursts, her decisions, and finally, her resolve. Sure, if she had been a bit more open and honest with her sisters and her love interest, her path could have been very different, but then again, it might have caused the story to wrap up too quickly. In which case, I’m happy that the story played out as it did because at least now it means there’s more to come.