Home / Books / Young Adult Book Review: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Young Adult Book Review: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Turns out my Waiting on Wednesday post of Born Wicked back in October was on the mark.

Book Review: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

GoodReads | Amazon | Author Website

born wicked by jessica spotswood

Title & Author: Born Wicked: The Cahill Witch Chronicles by Jessica Spotswood

Genre: YA – Fantasy

Release Date: February 7, 2012

Series: 1st in a planned series

Publisher: Putnam Juevenille

How I Got the Book: Part of the Debut Author Challenge ARC Blog Tour


“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.”

Alternate History of Witch Trials

Born Wicked wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. I mean, from the description alone, I didn’t get a sense of the time or place that the book is set in, which actually plays a huge part in the book.

The novel is set in the late 1880s in New England, and it has an alternative history twist. During the time that the English fled their country to find religious freedom in America…so did witches! They were once free and accepted in society until the Brotherhood started hunting them down because their magic was “wicked” and against’s God’s law.

Because I wasn’t expecting it, the plot of Born Wicked took me by surprise, and I struggled a little to accept the twist on America’s history. BUT – I ended up really enjoying this fresh perspective, and I think the time and placement of the book add a ton of dimension and interest.

On to the characters – Cate and her sisters Maura (a fiery redhead) and Tess (a sweet, clever girl) are forces to be reckoned with. When they’re not arguing with each other (usually about Cate acting too protective), they’re causing mischief while trying to keep prying eyes away from their family…and magic.

Cate is a tough character to like at first. She’s super bossy and controlling of her sisters – but all with a good cause. Her mother died and her dad is constantly away from home. She’s the stand-in Mom, and her sisters don’t make protecting them easy. Relationships are pretty fluid in Born Wicked, so I’m really interested to see how they shift and change in the second book.

Love Potion #9

So even though Cate Cahill is a serious grump, the girl’s got game. She has TWO hot suitors, and they’re both mad about her! Although you may be thinking – UGH another love triangle sitch, you would be dead wrong if you also though it wasn’t good. Cuz it’s WAY GOOD!

I don’t know how Spotswood does it, but the Cate/John/Finn thing totally worked for me. I think it’s because Cate isn’t super wishy-washy. She just has decisions to make, you know? She knows her own heart, but she has to make the best choice for her sisters too.

Oh, the drama! But seriously, there’s a lot of steamy awesomeness in this book! Plus, it’s not overboard because, well, this is 1880s we’re talking about here. Sexy then = holding hands outdoors. Ohh scandalous!

No, but seriously, Cate does a bit more than that, the hussy.


After coming to terms with the alternative history setting of Born Wicked, I really enjoyed this book. It surprised me in the best ways with it’s feuding-but-loving sisters and complicated-but-exciting romance. Born Wicked is a fantastic debut novel!

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.