In an alternate version of New England in the 19th century, life for women is highly structured and highly boring, thanks to the strict governance of the Brotherhood. The ideal woman must be chaste, ignorant, and obedient, declaring her commitment at age 17 to either the religious order of the Sisterhood or to a husband. Anyone not conforming to the Brothers’ wishes runs the risk of being accused of witchcraft, a grievous offense indeed.
The three teenaged Cahill sisters, considered reclusive and unfashionable bluestockings by many, don’t quite fit the Brothers’ ideal of womanly perfection. What most people don’t know, however, is the terrible truth behind their inherent oddness: Cate, Maura, and Tess were all born witches.
Following the death of their beloved mother, eldest sister Cate has dedicated her life to protecting and caring for Maura and Tess, a task that consumes her even as she faces her ever-approaching commitment ceremony, some unexpected correspondence, a meddling new governess, more suitors than she knows what to do with, and a dark family secret that will undo all that she has worked to save. With only six months to spare before having to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, it looks more and more like Cate won’t be able to keep her promise to her mother. If she were an ordinary girl, it would be so easy to simply pursue the advances of Paul, the handsome boy next door, or even Finn, the scholarly gardener who catches her eye. Cate Cahill, of course, is far from ordinary. Always, there are her sisters to think of, and the fate that might befall them if she weren’t around to keep their secrets.
In the end (or is it really the beginning?), a frightening prophesy comes to light, and courageous Cate will have to choose between friends and family, love and duty, truth and persecution. What will become of the Cahill girls?
Born Wicked is a stunning debut novel that features strong characters and plenty of intrigue, romance, and magic to please older readers. The story of the Cahill witches is not one to miss.
A lot of girls dream about their wedding day—the dress, the celebration, the groom, the happiest day of their lives—but that’s not how it is for Sudasa. How could it be, when she is being forced to marry a total stranger at the tender age of 17?
In the year 2054, one child policies in India have led to a huge disparity between the genders. Within the walled world of Koyanagar, boys are a dime a dozen. Only one girl exists for every five boys, and it’s essential to the government that all viable females marry and try to produce as many daughters as they can. In order to be sure that the country’s young women are choosing acceptable mates, boys are chosen to compete in a series of tests that determine who will earn wives and security and who will be sent to an early death defending the walls that keep them protected from the rest of the world.
It’s Sudasa’s turn to preside over the Tests. Over the course of three days, it is her duty to award points to the five boys who are forced to endure different challenges to win her hand, and she recounts her experiences in lovely verse.
In alternating chapters, older readers are treated to the thoughts of Contestant Five, an impoverished farm boy who is competing for Sudasa against his will. While most boys are desperate for the rare comforts that a wife can provide, Contestant Five is planning to use his competition as a chance to escape Koyanagar and find his long-lost mother. Meeting Sudasa throws everything off for his plans, though. Rather than the vapid spoiled girl he expected, he finds a gentle beauty with a love of poetry and some subversive ideas of her own.
5 to 1 puts a terrific spin on the dystopian genre, and Sudasa and Contestant Five are wonderful characters who will intrigue readers as their paths become intertwined and their lives become forever, irrevocably changed.
Read alikes: The Selection by Kiera Cass; Matched by Ally Condie
Posts by Mrs. Remington, School Librarian