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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Audiobook Review: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

TITLE: Born Wicked 
SERIES: The Cahill Witch Chronicles, Book #1 
AUTHOR: Jessica Spotswood 
NARRATOR: Nicole Sudhaus
PUBLISHER: Penguin Audio
DATE OF PUBLICATION: February 7, 2012
FORMAT: Unabridged Audiobook, 8 hours and 55 minutes
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy/Paranormal, Historical Fiction
ISBN: 978-1101539637
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 received this audiobook for review from the publisher. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own.  

This story takes place in the late 1800s, and it features the wealthy Cahill family. Mr. Cahill is a scholar but, since the death of his wife, he has spent less and less time at the family estate and often travels to New London. This leaves his three daughters – Cate (16 years), Maura (15 years), and Tess (12 years) – in the care of family servants. The girls have been somewhat like hermits since their mother died, never venturing into the community and socializing with others. Cate also made a promise to her mother before she died that she would take care of her younger sisters and protect them, because no one must know that they are witches!

Cate receives a strange letter from someone with the initials “Z.R.” urging her to find her mother’s diary and warning her that she and her sisters are in grave danger. Cate discovers that there is a prophecy concerning a trio of sisters who are all witches. It is extremely rare to have three witches in one generation and, at the time that her mother died, both Cate and Maura already displayed their magical abilities. Cate’s mother was concerned that if Tess (who was too young at the time to display any magical abilities) manifests as well, it would be likely that they are the ones that have been prophesied about. The prophecy goes on to say that one of the sisters, who will be gifted with mind magic, will be the most powerful witch born in centuries. She will be powerful enough to change the course of history and even bring a resurgence of the witches’ power.

The Brotherhood keeps the peace in Chatham by going around and arresting young women whom they believe to be witches. The young ladies are sent to an asylum in Harwood, where they are often never heard from again.

Kate’s Intention Ceremony will soon take place, at which time she must decide either to marry and raise a family or join the Sisterhood. Although Kate’s childhood friend, Paul McLeod, returns to Chatham and confesses that he would like nothing more than to marry her, Kate is not sure whether to accept his proposal. She feels a very strong attraction to the gardener, Finn Belastra, whose mother owns the local bookstore. Even though the Belastra family is of a lower social class than the Cahill family, it does not stop Cate from falling for charming Finn.

When the neighbourhood busy-body, Regina Corbett, suggests to Mr. Cahill that the girls need a governess to refine them into proper young ladies, Elena Robichaud is hired. Cate soon learns that nothing is as it seems, and that she can trust no one!

I cannot recall ever reading an historical paranormal novel featuring witches! I loved it!! It was a refreshing change from the ever-popular dystopia and vampires. Spotswood’s prose is beautiful, and she creates such vivid imagery. I can’t believe that this is her debut novel! 

Cate is so wise beyond her years. She is completely unselfish, to her own detriment. She is wonderfully complex and carries herself with grace. Not at all snooty, she would rather be pulling weeds in the garden and getting her hands dirty then putting on airs and having tea with the local ladies. The romance between Cate and Finn is so sweet, and it is hard not to root for them. I’ll let you decide for yourself after reading this excerpt:

[told in first-person by Cate] "My hands slide up his chest. My mouth reaches for his.

Our noses bump in the dark, but Finn tilts his head sideways until his lips touch mine. They brush back and forth, testing. Tasting. He waits, but I only press closer, and he reads that for the invitation it is. His kisses grow bolder. My toes curl in my slippers; my fingers clench the fabric of his shirt; fireworks explode in my belly.

His mouth explores the sharp line of my jaw, then moves to the hollow of my throat.

“Finn,” I sigh. Never in my life has my voice sounded like that.

I know my fingers in his hair and pull his mouth back to mine.

His hands move over me, light as feathers, stroking my back, my hip. Tangling in the sash around my waist, anchoring me tighter against him. My body burns wherever he touches.”

A little bit pulse-pounding, isn’t it? And that gorgeous cover does the story justice!

The ending was gut-wrenching, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the next in the series, Star Cursed, which is slated for release in February 2013.

This is my first narration by Nicole Sudhaus, and I thought she did a fantastic job! She managed to capture the individual personalities of each character, and I was really mesmerized by her voice. 


5 stars!! Loved it! I will likely re-read it again in the future! You should definitely read it! Thanks to Penguin Audio for the opportunity to review this fabulous audiobook!

This book qualifies as:


  1. Wow Darlene this sound like a great story. Thanks for the review.

  2. whew.. i will come back later and read your review as I too have this on my Next-to-read-list.. but I went to the end and glad to see a 5star rating.. I'll Be Back :D


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