LENGTH: 352 pages
SUMMARY: (via jessicaspotswood.com) 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.
BRIDGE: What a marvelous book with which to study gender roles. From the first few chapters I kept thinking of my former colleague Mrs. M who is a master-teacher in her beloved AP Language and Composition discipline. She is constantly looking for text that will ask students to analyze literature through a male or female lens. What an intriguing book with which to challenge readers to think about society’s expectations of both males and females. Cate is constantly questioning her own reasoning and struggling underneath the weight of a patriarchal society from the beginning of the novel throughout. In addition, both Finn and Peter are constrained by the roles expected of young men whether they feel that is the right path for them or not. The book would most likely work best in a literature circle type study paired with other titles (both classic like The Awakening and contemporary line Leverage) that lend themselves to analysis of gender. One might also be able to parlay portions of the book into interesting albeit short connections with history classes. The oppressive setting and religious fanaticism would blend nicely with studies of Hawthorne or Wharton.
READERS: Fantasy fans will be drawn to this book because of the elements of mild witchcraft. Historical fiction fans or readers who enjoy period pieces will enjoy the Puritanical/Victorian-esque overtones.
OTHER TITLES: Readers who enjoy this title might also enjoy Chime by Franny Billingsley, Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, or Seraphina by Rachel Hartman.