Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood
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 was not expecting to love this book as much as I did. Like, I thought this would probably be a good book, it would be interesting to read, whatever. But I didn't think that I would become pretty much obsessed with this story. A few pages in, I fell in love with the story and the characters and the setting and the magic and the boys.
This book is historical. Did you know it was historical? I didn't. Not until I started reading it. I don't usually read a lot of historical books, so I was a bit wary when I realized it was set in the past. But after about two seconds, I was so immersed in the story that I forgot all about what time period it was. Plus, it's not even the real past. It's alternate history, which is seriously awesome.
Cate is a main character who I can identify with in a lot of ways. Still mourning the death of her mother, it is her responsibility to look after her two younger sisters. Their father isn't much help; he basically shuts himself away from his daughters and ignores them. So Cate is on her own when it comes to taking care of her sisters. I myself have two younger sisters, so I could really understand Cate's struggles to protect them. As the oldest sibling, Cate has to be very responsible, while her sisters are a lot more carefree. I feel like I could relate to every decision Cate makes, and she is definitely a favorite protagonist of mine.
Oh, and they are witches! Which is awesome. To be honest, I'm not usually a big fan of witches in books/movies/tv, but this book was a pleasant surprise. The magic that the sisters possess feels so real and not overdone. The girls are not using magic on every page to fix their problems and create mayhem. In fact, for much of the book they are focused on restraining their magic so that others do not discover their secret. To me, it seems the book is focused more on the relationship Cate shares with her sisters and the struggle to keep their secret than their supercool magical powers.
The alternate history created in this book is so thorough and well done. With the Brotherhood in power, men are superior to women in every way. During this time period, the mindset is basically that if women are allowed to think for themselves or be equal to men in any way, witches will come back into power. It's really disgusting to read about how these women and girls are treated, and I kind of want to reach into the book and strangle some of these Brotherhood members. I consider this a good thing, of course, when a book provokes such strong emotions in me. :)
Also: KISSING AND CUTE BOYS. Seriously. The romance! Just..wow. I am totally and completely in love with Finn Belastra.