Saturday, February 18, 2012

Wicked in Love

Born Wicked: The Cahill Witch Chronicles, Book One
What if New England had once been a haven for witches escaping persecution, bringing witches from all around the world to one spot. Then imagine the non-witches of that area launched an attack upon the witches, rooting them out and either imprisoning them or ending their lives. This is the alternate history where the Cahill sisters live in New England at the turn of the century in Born Wicked: The Cahill Witch Chronicles, Book One by Jessica Spotswood.

Cate Chaill is determined to keep her promise to her dying mother- to protect her two sisters from the Brotherhood, a gathering of men who seek out and destroy the lives of witches. Cate and her sisters are witches, but only their mother knew Cate's secret, that she could do the most powerful kind of magic... mind magic. While Tess and Maura love their magic and barely keep it hidden, but Cate uses hers only enough to be able to control it. But her time is coming when every girl must declare their intentions to the Brotherhood: get married or join the sisterhood.

When Cate receives a letter from the godmother she never knew instructing her to find her mother's journal, Cate realizes there is more to their magic than she thought. When she finds the diary, she learns there is a prophecy that three witch sisters will come about and either save the fate of witches, or ruin witches forever. Terrified she and her sisters are the witches in the prophecy, Cate seeks help from people she hopes she can trust despite always keeping her secret to herself. In doing so, she not only finds more to her magic than she had imagined, she also finds that marriage for convenience might not be her only fate. A young man named Finn could be the love Cate never dared to let herself dream about.

This book started a little slow for me at first, but then it picked right up and caught my attention. I loved the old-fashioned feel of the story at the end of the 19th century, as well as the alternate history. The world was so well created that it could have easily been our real history! At first, in fact, I didn't realize it was all that different! And the sisters are an interesting mix of personalities. Cate is your typical eldest daughter, too grown up for her age and the responsibility of the world resting on her shoulders. Maura is the willful middle child who refuses to hide who she really is, even if it means exposing the entire family. And Tess is the youngest sister, in all her wide-eyed innocence and loveliness. The love story behind the magic is really quite sweet, but complicated as these things always tend to be. You want Cate to be with Finn, the son of the bookstore owner who is at the top of the Brotherhood's watch list, but you know her marriage to her childhood friend is the safer choice for Cate and her sisters. But alas, love can not be contained and is not safe or logical. It just is.

The setting of this book makes for a nice story with no violence or sexual content. It feels old-fashioned, which might not be the best fit for some students. It was an interesting story and could be the source of some interesting conversations and creative expression dealing with alternate histories. In fact, I would love to have a student create an alternate history after reading this book. The changes are subtle enough that the book is really quite realistic and easy to read. I look forward to the rest of the series and to see what happens to the Cahill witches!

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