Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading … Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Just Finished Reading … Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood

Review of Star Cursed (Cahill Witch Chronicles #2) 
by Jessica Spotswood
To be published by Putnam Juvenile
On June 18, 2013

Source: ARC sent from publisher. Please see my FTC disclosure on right sidebar.

Connect with the author: Website : Twitter





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.

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!

22 comments:

  1. I remember not really liking the cover for Born Wicked (her knees!) so I didn't read much about it but now I'm seeing that it's about sisters, a huge point of interest for me. Then of course I love magic and witches and alternate history so I think I'll be giving this series a try!

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    1. Yes, I was going to mention in my post that they made the new covers a little more historically … vague, almost modern looking. I loved the old cover, but I think the new ones are also great!

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  2. The intrigue and the fact there is no sophmore slump sounds great. I haven't read the first yet, but I want to

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  3. Yay for no sophomore slump! I haven't heard of this series before.

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    1. I know -- love a middle book that really ups all the stakes :)

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  4. I just finished this one too!!! I agree that there is no slumpy book 2 here!! Now if I could just get my thoughts into review form lol

    Xox
    Jaime

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    1. A lot happened, and then it's clear that there's more stuff to come...

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  5. I'm so excited to read this book!! It sounds amazing. I love when a sequel is as great as the first. I loved Born Wicked and have been dying for this one!

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  6. The ending KILLED ME!!! It was a great continuation of a series that I really love. Can't wait for book 3!

    Kate @ Ex Libris

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    1. I know, right? I totally should have seen it coming, too….

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  7. I like that this has a strong sister dynamic. I have 2 of them myself. I also love the historical feel to this, but I haven't read the first one so should start with that. But it means a lot that you like them so much. Did you tell me the first one has a triangle in it? Does it continue, or is it one that fizzles out?

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  8. Thank you for those recaps, Jen! It has been almost 17 months since I read Born Wicked so that little bit of info helped A LOT:)

    I really love Spotswood's alternate history in this series, I found it to be fascinating. And I love that it's also very pro-feminism. There don't seem to be enough good witch books out there, imo, and so far this is one of the better series' in that genre that I have read.

    I can't wait to read this!!:)

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  9. I really liked the first book, but I think I'll have to wait to read this until the third one is almost out. I just can't handle cliffhanger endings sometimes and I have a feeling this one might fall under one of those. I did love Cate and Tess. Maura really made me mad in the last book since she was so irresponsible and selfish, but true to her chararcter. I'm sure she'll rub me that way again in this one.

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  10. I'm in the middle of this one right now, but I've heard a lot of angsty chatter about the ending. I'm not looking forward to it, though I do feel better prepared. I'm glad you liked this and there was no middle book syndrome. Great review!

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  11. Okay... I didn't think I wanted to read this one, BUT BUT BUT... sisters and prophecies and althistory and MAGIC????????????? THIS BOOK HAS ME ALL OVER IT! I just requested the first one. I think there is a signing coming up around here soon that Kim wants to go to. I need to make sure I put it on my calendar.

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  12. Oh I can't wait to read this one! I think I needed a refresher for the first but your little recap or plot description thingy helped me a lot, things are coming back. I love books with witches and that are historical. I can't wait to read this one!

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  13. Sounds amazing. Will check it out.

    Thanks for this great review.

    Andreea

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  14. GAH! I can just imagine how the book will end. I can not wait to read it.

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  15. I haven't even read the first book yet -- it's on my shelf, though -- so I kind of skipped to the end to get your take to see if this should be moved up the pile. But the sheer fact that you didn't see the ending coming means that I should get on it. Historical, witches, sisters...yes, please!

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  16. I haven't read the first book yet, so I won't read the entire review, but I'm glad to see that you enjoyed this one! I should really get to reading this series. I adore witches and magic, and this sounds so... enthralling. And I'm glad to hear that the ending came off as such a shock to you! Love it when a book is able to shock me.

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