Hey Squinklebooks Squad,
I’ve heard of a saying that there’s a special place in heaven for mothers with three boys in the family. But if you ask my mom, she’d say mothers with three girls deserve a palace gilded in gold among the clouds as well. Because Jessica Spotswood’s Born Wicked is of three sisters, I was immediately drawn to it. Add their magical abilities and a setting where said magical abilities must be repressed on pain of death or being deemed delusional, and you’ve got a great unputdownable story.
Spotswood’s novel abounds in conflict. On top of the aforementioned need to hide magical abilities, there’s a distant and often absent father, a busybody neighbour, a meddling governess, a looming intention ceremony, an omnipresent and repressive group, and the kind of class struggles present anywhere and everywhere. There’s also a really interesting love triangle, which made me, at various points in the story, root for one or both of the suitors!
But the strength of Born Wicked lies in the relationships amongst the three motherless girls. Cate, the eldest, shoulders loads of responsibilities, and it is through her eyes that we view Spotswood’s world. Cate is strong, determined, and unfailingly protective of her sisters. You can definitely see how negative an impact their mother’s death had on her. Tess, the youngest, is just beginning to experience and learn about the magical abilities they possess, and hers are so powerful that they are potentially dangerous. She’s also great at observing people’s feelings and reactions, which I envy a lot. Maura is the middle child, and what a typical middle child she is! Smart, witty, stubborn, passionate, … and sometimes unable to control her emotions, Maura is a great foil for Cate. That I am so annoyed with her by the end of the novel is a testament to how well Spotswood writes and develops that character.
I love, love, love that Spotswood tackles witch hunting and burning that harkens back to the 16th to 18th centuries in Europe and North America. It was great to read about the characters encountering conflicts like taboos, persecution, and mild paranoia about whom to trust. I felt like I was in a perpetual state of anxiety … which may not be great for some readers, but I surely loved it! And there was something delicious about Belastras’ bookshop: I’d probably spend all my time there if it were in my town.
I can’t wait to dive into the second book, Star Cursed, but ay, here’s the rub: the earlier I read Book 2, which I’m sure will end off with an incredible cliffhanger, the more interminable the wait will seem for Book 3, Sisters’ Fate, which releases in summer 2014. Oh well—happy dilemma have I.
Jessica Spotswood very kindly signed my copies of Born Wicked and Star Cursed when I met her at the Penguin Canada offices this past summer. I’m crossing my fingers I get to meet her again once I manage to get my hands on a copy of Sisters’ Fate!
*Image from Jessica Spotswood’s website.
Jessica Spotswood’s Online Corners