"Our mother was a witch, too, but she hid it better. I miss her."
That's how Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood opens, and I was hooked right away. One of the best openings I've ever read! She says so much in so few words.
Unfortunately, the book went downhill from there for me. If I hadn't agreed to write this review for the BlogHer Book Club with the stipulation that I finish reading the book first, I probably would have stopped after the first few chapters. There are just too many other books languishing on my to-be-read list to spend time on one that I don't enjoy, unless I'm given the book and compensated for my time.
Born Wicked is the story of three sisters, all witches forced to hide their powers. It's told in the voice of the eldest, sixteen-year-old Cate, who is trying to protect her little sisters and deal with two love interests simultaneously.
Why didn't I care for the book? It's not the genre or the age level - I love the Harry Potter series. It's the writing.
The narration is intrusive at times, breaking up the flow of scenes. Cate drones on and on, giving us explanations and back story that often merely restate what we just learned through dialog or action, in case we didn't get it the first time. Blah, blah, blah, boring. Too often Spotswood resorts to "telling" instead of "showing."
I dream of having my own book published, but I sure hope no one would let it slip through if I committed the same mistakes.
The story is set in Massachusetts in the 1880's , but not the Massachusetts or the 1880's we're familiar with. Spotswood created her own world history, where witches founded the colonies for religious freedom but are now arrested and sent away to institutions when their powers are discovered. It's a man's world for sure.
And Dubai is important for some reason - it's mentioned several times in the first few chapters.
I feel the multiple random mentions of Dubai and the alternate history distracted from the story rather than added to it. Perhaps creating a whole new world would be better.
The premise of the story is interesting, and, as I mentioned, the opening is great. There are several parts in the book that reveal Spotswood's gift for writing, but I think overall the book could have used more editing and checks for consistency in character and plot. I can't help thinking it was rushed through, perhaps in hopes of catching the Twilight fans before they drift away to something else.
It has a strong Facebook fan page, and most of the other reviews were positive, so obviously it appeals to some people. But you won't find me reading Book 2 of The Cahill Witch Chronicles.
This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own, as you've probably figured out.