Book Reviews

Review: “Star Cursed,” Jessica Spotswood

January 25, 2016
Review: “Star Cursed,” Jessica SpotswoodStar Cursedby Jessica Spotswood
Series: The Cahill Witch Chronicles #2
Published by Penguin on June, 2013
Genres: Historical, Witches
Pages: 384
Book Depository | Bookworld | Booktopia

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.

Star Cursed is perhaps even better than its predecessor, Born Wicked. The stakes are higher, Cate and her sisters’ prophecy is drawing closer and their plans are more dangerous. A wonderful mix of historical fantasy, romance and incredible world-building make this series a delightful read!

“I cannot imagine a life without books. Without Father’s stories of the ancient Greek gods and goddesses, without pirate stories and fairy tales and poems. Without the hope of another way, of freedom and adventure beyond what we have here and now. How dark life would be.”
– Cate

I have been wanting to finish The Cahill Witch Chronicles for so long – ever since reading the first book back in its debut year, 2012. Why it took me so long, I don’t know. I absolutely devoured it and upon re-read, I felt much the same. Although I didn’t get those ‘zinging amazeballs!’ feels the second time around, Born Wicked was a pretty solid read with hardly any faults.

Star Cursed is on par with the first book, if not better. Everything’s changed this time around and no longer are we in the small town of Chatham or confined to the grounds of the Cahill family home.

We follow our narrator, Cate, to New London where she’s now one of the ‘Sisters’ and with her own kind. Torn away from her sisters from the first time in her life, Cate struggles to make friends and come to terms with the prophecy. Cate is still an incredibly likeable character. As the eldest sister of three girls, I can totally relate to her and her relationship with her sisters.

The environment of the Convent brings some new aspects into play; such as a test for power, rivalries and even faculty who have their own allegiances. There’s a glimmer of classwork, too, but we don’t get bogged down by the day-to-day school life of the witches. It was a nice medium which I found really enjoyable. While I couldn’t exactly distinguish ALL of the new characters from one another (there are tonnes!) I definitely liked the new setting here in New London more than I liked Chatham.

“I kiss him back. I am a wicked girl, after all.”
– Cate

Of course, familiar faces like Cate’s sisters return – Maura more resentful than ever and Tess wise beyond her years. Elena, the disgraced governess, is there as well as love interests Paul and Finn. Friends like Rory, Sachi and Brenna make their return.

Cate and Finn’s relationship in Star Cursed is quite different than it was in Born Wicked. They both have different lives now, but still share the same dreams and affection for one another. I wasn’t as taken with Finn in this book, however. I didn’t feel that he was ever quite on Cate’s level as she was coming into her powers more and making more difficult decisions.

We get to explore the extent of the Brothers wrath more in this book, too, by visiting Harwood – the insane asylum for girls. There are a lot of different plot points in Star Cursed, which probably managed to affect my rating. I couldn’t tell what direction the book was going in – as it didn’t have one overall arc, rather tiny little ones that were rectified one by one, all looming under the promise of the Brothers fall and the prophecy fulfilling.

Probably the most important parts of Star Cursed plot-wise were discovering who was the most powerful Cahill sister, as well as the liberation of Harwood. There were a few little daring rescues, which were fun adventures, as well as seeing the relationship between Cate and Maura deteriorate even further.

“Countries are forged by war; perhaps girls are, too. New England and I will be reborn together in this war between the witches and the Brothers. Between Maura and me.”
– Cate

Cate really came into her own in this book and I’m so proud to see her grow into a more powerful witch. She discovers some new skills, as well as finds new faults. She forges new relationships with previous enemies and sees previous loves diminish. She holds it all together, though, and managed to rise to whatever challenge she was met with. I’m really loving her as the lead.

We get to delve deeper into not just THE prophecies, but the minor prophecies as told by the oracle. I really enjoy how Jessica Spotswood manages to add more layers to the story without it feeling too heavy. It’s clear the series is evolving, and I’m enjoying the ride!

I’m not quite sure why this one is called ‘Star Cursed’, but maybe it’ll come to me. I’d say that this book is different from the first, but in a good way. There’s a lot more excitement here with the world of New London. I’m crossing my fingers that Sisters’ Fate is extraordinary. This one came so close to a five-star rating for me!

About Jessica Spotswood

Jessica Spotswood hearts books, board games, tea, the color pink, theatre, twirly dresses, and bells chiming the hour. She lives in Washington, DC with her playwright husband and a cuddly cat named Monkey. She also works part-time as a children's library associate for the DC Public Library.

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