The stakes have never been higher for Cate Cahill. After having pulled off a daring rescue under the Brotherhood’s nose, a raid of Harwood, the prison/hospital where they housed girls suspected of witchcraft and also losing her godmother, Cate is horribly betrayed when she arrives home to find her spiteful, power-hungry sister Maura has just wiped her fiancé Finn’s memory. Hurt and furious beyond belief, Cate spills that Tess is the most powerful witch, the prophesied oracle, whom Maura believed herself to be. The divide between the sisters seems greater than ever, especially as the prophecy predicts one of them killing the other. The casualty of her future with Finn has finally pushed Cate past her fears into embracing leadership. It also means she can thwart Maura and Sister Inez as well as the Brotherhood while saving her friends and countless innocents. Luckily, Cate isn’t working alone, especially since she becomes the most wanted witch in England. Tess, Rilla, Sachi, Rory, Brenna, Prudencia, Merriweather (the journalist), even a befuddled but determinedly endearing Finn and a desperate Sister Elena are all key in the battle against a deadly disease and a disastrous future full of fire and death orchestrated by Inez and the Brotherhood. Though Cate believes she, along with her allies, can save the people from Inez, Cate struggles with the answer to the greatest question: can she save her sisters?
I love this series! The characterization is so wonderful, especially in this novel, when we see all of our favorite characters come and work together, bringing out new subplots both hilarious and integral to the action. I loved Rilla and her banter with Merriweather! Possibly my favorite scenes in the book, other than those with Finn and Cate. Never fear, though it seems entirely lost with the holes in Finn’s memory, things seem to work out believably into a utterly satisfying happy ending. A few more things surprised me, too, Sister Elena on Cate’s side, how addicted I was to every part of the story, including the entire ending, and how well everything wrapped up. Despite the fast pace, there is a big depth of emotion and appeal here, even for adults as well as teens. For example, Cate’s inner turmoils of wanting to save Maura and protect Tess, desiring more from her life with Finn, and using all of her influence and abilities to do the right thing temper her into a fierce, strong heroine better able to make the hard choices when necessary. I was so sorry to finish this series and leave these characters/this world, but I can’t wait to see what Jessica Spotswood brings us next.
Her next book, Wild Swans, is set to be released in May 2016, and her recently edited book Tyranny of Petticoats, full of short stories with contributions from other wonderful authors is out now!