Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood: Audiobook Review

Book: Born Wicked (The Cahill Witch Chronicles #1) by Jessica Spotswood, Penguin Audio, February 7, 2012

Audiobook Info:  Young Adult Historical Fantasy, Audiobook provided by Penguin Audio,  Audio length: 8 hours,  56 minutes, read by Nicole Sudhaus. Also available in Hardcover from G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

More Info: Audible | AmazonGoodreads | Read the first two chapters here

Witches, sisters, secrets, a prophecy, and forbidden romance mingle in Jessica Spotswood’s debut Born Wicked.  The historical alt reality description made me look twice at this book, even though I don’t normally gravitate to books about witches.  I listened to the audiobook and ended up thoroughly entertained and swept up by the delicious scandals. The first book of The Cahill Witch Chronicles is a lot of fun.

Born Wicked is the first book in a trilogy about three magically gifted sisters who have to hide their talents from the Brotherhood – priests who send suspected witches to insane asylums or prison. The oppressive Brothers long for the day of public hangings for witches, and in fact they have little regard for women in general.

Cate Cahill is the oldest of three sisters, all of whom are witches. Now almost seventeen, Cate must declare her purpose to either marry or join the religious Sisterhood. But, she pledged to her dying mother that she would protect her sisters from capture by the Brothers. She has never thought too much about romance, preferring to tend her gardens instead. But love is now a bigger consideration that a marriage offer is on the table from childhood friend Paul, and even more so when she starts falling for the booksellers son / family gardener Finn.  Now Cate has an impossible choice to make, along with a prophecy she desperately wants to prevent.

The book started out pleasantly enough, and I enjoyed getting the feel of late 1800s New England. Though the pace was a bit lagging at first, the set-up pays off, and soon I was looking for ways to keep listening to the story. The writing style also is lovely and goes perfectly with the books historical time frame.  It was easy to imagine the Cahill’s home and gardens, the tea parties, and dresses.

Cate is a strong main character, and fiercely protective of her sisters. It’s clear that she means to honor her commitment to watch over them, even though she comes off as the bad guy a lot of the time. She closely monitors their witchcraft activities and has an especially turbulent relationship with middle sister Maura. The youngest, Tess, doesn’t have as many scenes, but she stands out among the sisters, and is one I would like to know more about. I’m also interested to see what the Cahill sisters can do with their magic once it gets unleashed.

You may be shaking your head at the hint of a love triangle, but Cate knows where her heart lies and it’s really a non-issue. The kissing scenes are memorable and you can get a glimpse of one of the best scenes in the book trailer below.

In addition to the witchery and romance, the story also matter-of-factly takes on feminist topics, as Cate and her sisters are discouraged from being anything other than a wife or a Sister. Their outside interests such as books label the sisters as eccentric and outcasts, and the Brothers even seek to close down the bookshop for selling books they deem inappropriate.

Regarding the audio production, the book is read by Nicole Sudhaus. She reads with a pleasant no-nonsense voice for Cate and captures her feistiness and caring spirit well. Her reading suits the historical time frame and she reads with a nice clear tone and an even pace.  She sounds like the appropriate age for Cate, and delivers the needed emotional intensity with her narration. She differentiates the character voices well, including male and female voices of varying age and dialects. In the beginning I had trouble keeping track of the voices of the sisters, but I think I was still getting acclimated to the story.  When the story starts out slow in the beginning I had more patience with it because the audio kept me entertained, and as the story went on I went out of my way to do more household chores so I could keep listening. And the action packed conclusion had me clamoring for a sequel. I would be inclined to continue with audio for this series.

Recommended for fans of historical fiction, paranormal, and romance. Look for Born Wicked in stores today.


14 thoughts on “Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood: Audiobook Review

  1. Candice says:

    So after reading your review and seeing the trailer, I WANT TO READ THIS BOOK! That is all. 🙂

    1. Lucy says:

      Hope you love it, Candice! I think the trailer is awesome too.

  2. I wasn’t totally sold on this book but after reading your review, I think I might try the audiobook. 8 or 9 hours isn’t all that much and it isn’t often that I become so engrossed in an audiobook that I have to make up excuses to listen. My productivity around the house and doing errands just shoots through the roof:) I’m also curious about it because you said the youngest daughter was the most intriguing. I kind of love when secondary characters leave me wanting more and excitedly waiting for the author to tell their story. (and at least we know we’ll eventually get to hear hers!)

    1. Lucy says:

      I hope you like the book/audio Flannery. I always hope for a great audio experience that will help me be more productive around the house 🙂

      I wonder if each sister will get their own book? There isn’t info yet on the sequels, but both sisters are pretty intriguing.

  3. OOOH!!! I just got my copy of this in the mail and I CAN’T WAIT to dive in! The trailer is so amazing, right?! Between that and the few sample chapters I read on Penguin’s Scribd page thingy, my appetite for this book is BIG. Woot!

    1. Lucy says:

      Great! Can’t wait to hear what you think of Born Wicked, Amy.

  4. I’m not typically a huge fan of alt historical fiction, but you do make this audiobook sound enticing!

    1. Lucy says:

      I don’t think I’ve read too much alt historical before, but it added an interesting element. Hope you do enjoy it if you get the chance to read it.

  5. I already knew I would want to read this book. You confirmed it and I’m going to see if the library has the audio. I love how you review books and especially audiobooks. You have such a feel for saying just what is necessary to make me know yep read it or nope pass.

    U rock as usual.

  6. Reminds me of the TV show Charmed. Sounds good. Will add to my TBR pile!

  7. […] reviews of Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood:YA Bibliophile Tales Of A Ravenous Reader The Reading Date Forever Young Adult HobbitsiesShare It Like It's HotRelated posts:Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, […]

  8. Excellent review of both the story and the narration, thanks! I’m headed over to my library website to request the audio version!

  9. […] Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood. Narrated by Nicole Sudhaus. From my review: When the story starts out slow in the beginning I had more patience with it because the audio kept me entertained, and as the story went on I went out of my way to do more household chores so I could keep listening. […]

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