Author: Jessica Spotswood
Genre: YA, historical, alternate universe/parallel timelines, paranormal
Publication Date: June 18, 2013 (Penguin – North America)
Source: Publisher-provided ARC
Summary: With the Brotherhood persecuting witches like never before, a divided Sisterhood desperately needs Cate to come into her Prophesied powers. And after Cate’s friend Sachi is arrested for using magic, a war-thirsty Sister offers to help her find answers—if Cate is willing to endanger everyone she loves.
Cate doesn’t want to be a weapon, and she doesn’t want to involve her friends and Finn in the Sisterhood’s schemes. But when Maura and Tess join the Sisterhood, Maura makes it clear that she’ll do whatever it takes to lead the witches to victory. Even if it means sacrifices. Even if it means overthrowing Cate. Even if it means all-out war.
In the highly anticipated sequel to Born Wicked, the Cahill Witch Chronicles continue Cate, Maura and Tess’s quest to find love, protect family, and explore their magic against all odds in an alternate history of New England.
☆: 4.5/5 stars – an awesome continuation to the first book!
Review: Oh my god, those last two pages, you guys – DEFINITELY makes this book a candidate for my best of 2013 for that alone, but this book takes many risks, and I love that Spotswood wasn’t afraid to go into some of the darker places that other sequels would have avoided. It made me love this book, this world, these characters all the more. This one’s going to kick your feels right in the feels, guys, so hold on as we go into rocky territory in “Star Cursed”. I’m absolutely chomping at the bit for book three NOW.
In this installment of the Cahill Witch Chronicles, we leave Chatham behind and go into New London, where our world vastly expands to include the Convent of the Sisterhood, Harwood Asylum, the Prison Ship, as well as all of New London and the Brothers’ Headquarters. Spotswood does a wonderful job expanding her world – the idea of completely leaving Chatham behind as a sensory/physical place was a fantastic idea, and I’m so glad she did it. Here, we isolate all of our players, and see how much we can stress them out, push them to their limits, and see what their limits are. Her sensory imagery and language really shines when she brings Cate and co. to New London, even in the most terrible of scenes and circumstances, and to say the least, it makes this book even more intense when you put it together with the events that go on within it.
Next, characters: we get a ton of new ones, and they also help build the world, which is really hard to do correctly. Happily, Spotswood nailed it – helping to grow the world with the characters and their backstories which interwove with the greater backstory of recent history between the Sisterhood and the Brotherhood, which is how you do it correctly. Not everyone can do this, and it impressed me that Spotswood could do something so complex yet make it seem so easily readable, so simple to understand. The relationship web is used in this book – who’s related to whom and how, etc, and that works well, too. We also have all of our old friends back – all three sisters, Finn, Elena, and Paul, as well as a ton of new players both in the novice area (where Cate and her sisters are) and the initiate area (where the “real” sisters are after they’ve taken their vows). There’s a lot of heartache in these stories, and I found it quite relatable as the world hasn’t changed so much (even if this is an alternate-universe take on New England) in the last 100+ years in its attitude towards girls and literature. We’re both dangerous things that need to be contained, to be burned, to be controlled – and Spotswood’s metaphor of the witches as girls’ power making men afraid was a very interesting take on why certain things happened in our actual timeline (Salem Trials), and why pop culture continues to devalue girls today, as well as be afraid of new ideas in literature/book banning that still happens. Maybe I read a little too much into things, but that’s how I saw it.
The question that pops up in this book a lot (and it’s not even subconscious, mostly towards the end of this installment): why are girls considered so dangerous? Why is educating them dangerous? Why are they feared so much, and in order to control that fear, must be burned, imprisoned, or otherwise punished just because of their gender? It’s a profound question that still troubles us today all over the world in varying degrees (in some places worse than others), and I thought Spotswood snuck that in quite nicely – even if she didn’t consciously mean to.
But to get back to the rest of the book – wow. The general plot and the personal journey arcs for all three sisters are nothing short of amazing, and shows how people can buckle and take sides (much like fighting dogs) under pressure. War is coming, and the girls must take sides. Who will take which side? Who is the prophesied sister that will be the new Oracle? Will there be a new Terror? Or will the Brothers take all? All of these questions and more are not only asked, but much of it answered, leaving us on a fantastic cliffhanger (seriously I can’t even – I was freaking out on that last page) with romance, subterfuge, insubordination and plain ol’ sass from our favorite trio of sisters and all of their new friends (and enemies). The stakes (and Spotswood’s darling kill count) have never been higher, and thus, the writing has never been better.
Final verdict? If you’ve read book one, what are you waiting for? If you liked book one, you are going to LOVE “Star Cursed”. Lots of moral and very brutal questions get asked in a gorgeous way. And warning: your feels WILL get injured. I recommend having a lot of tissues available during the second half of this book. “Star Cursed” is out June 18, 2013 from Penguin in North America, so definitely be sure to check it out when you get the chance! It’s definitely on my best of 2013 list, so read and find out why!