By Jessica Spotswood
"Blessed with a gift...cursed with a secret.
Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they're witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship - or an early grave.
Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word . . . especially after she finds her mother's diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family's destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.
If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren't safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood - not even from each other."
This book ticks a lot of my pet-peeve boxes. Insta-love, lack of parental influence, poor world building... Not that it was all bad, there were just several things that bothered me. Particularly the world building. At the beginning of the book there are a couple of sentences about how the Arab girls have so much more freedom, and that the Spanish colonies to the south and the Indo-Chinese colonies to the west are impossible to get to because the borders are closed, but nothing is ever really explained. And it was difficult to get a feel for what time period it was in. It felt like a time back in the Salem Witch trials, but it kept mentioning 1780 being 180 years ago. All of those things were very confusing
One of the sentences the heroine says at the very end of the book is, "To protect the people I love, I would do it all over again." But when push came to shove, she just stood there and the little sister was the one who saved them. Hmmmm.
Will middle schoolers like it? It starts pretty slowly, but there is a sweet romance and some nail biting incidents. I think there are some 8th grade girls who would like it.
Areas of concern: Several uses of the *d* word. The "Brotherhood" are a group of men using religion to control women and the whole community, and they do some pretty disturbing things. There is a same-sex kiss.
Kirkus Review - Ages 12+
School Library Journal - Grades 7+