Review of Star Cursed (Cahill Witch Chronicles #2) by Jessica Spotswood
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Summary (from Goodreads:) 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.Buzzwords: Witchcraft, alt-history, sister story, prophecies, political themes.
My longer take: Born Wicked was a favorite of mine last year, a creative alt-history/paranormal YA. You can read my review of Born Wicked here.
Quick, non-spoilery series recap: The Cahill Witch Chronicles follows three sisters living in New England in the late 1800s. In the alt-history world of the book, the Western United States was colonized by Indo-China, while Spain settled the South. A group of witches -- the Daughters of Persephone -- were among the original American colonists, but had to go underground as society turned against them. Now the Brotherhood is in charge -- a group of men who have deemed witchcraft evil. But there's since been a prophecy about three sisters: one of them will be the most powerful witch in centuries, and one of them will be murdered by another.
There will be minor plot spoilers ahead if you haven't read the first book.
Review of Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood
As Star Cursed opens, Cate is now part of the Sisterhood, a convent that is actually a secret rescue group for witches. Cate and the other Sisters are horrified as the Brotherhood announces harsh and punitive new rules -- things like book burnings and a ban on educating women. The Brotherhood is also on the hunt for a new oracle they want to silence, arresting and imprisoning even more women in the grim Harwood Asylum.
I'm happy to report that there is no middle-book-in-a-series-slump going on here! Star Cursed is overflowing with conflict. First, there's the political drama that underlies the rivalry between the Sisterhood and the Brotherhood. Then, Sister Cora, the leader of the Sisterhood, is gravely ill, and there's a simmering dispute about who will take over after she dies and how confrontational they will be with the Brotherhood. There's also the growing sibling rivalry between between Cate and her younger sister, Maura. When Maura arrives at the convent with the girls' youngest sister, Tess, Maura is still reeling from a broken heart, and obviously angry at and jealous of Cate as all the sisters try to deal with possible interpretations of the ominous prophecy. Finally, there's the issue of Finn. Cate was falling in love with him in book one, and couldn't explain to him why she was forced to enter the convent.
All this makes for a story that's rich in intrigue and suspense -- the fear and paranoia caused by the Brotherhood rounding up women, the interpersonal conflict among the witches and the sisters, and the romantic suspense. I have to confess that I'm still not a big fan of Finn -- say that last part ten times fast -- but do like Cate, and I guess if she's happy, I'm happy. I continued to love the relationship between the three sisters. The bitter fights between Maura and Cate made me sad, yet they seemed realistic to me. I have a sister...
And then … wow, that ending. I definitely didn't see it coming and it will definitely make for even more drama in the third book. Bring it on!