Paranormal Young Adult
Available April 15th
Source: eARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Josephine Hemlock has spent the last 10 years hiding from the Curse that killed her mother. But when a mysterious man arrives at her ivy-covered, magic-fortified home, it’s clear her mother’s killer has finally come to destroy the rest of the Hemlock bloodline. Before Jo can even think about fighting back, she must figure out who she’s fighting in the first place. The more truth Jo uncovers, the deeper she falls into witchcraft darker than she ever imagined. Trapped and running out of time, she begins to wonder if the very Curse that killed her mother is the only way to save everyone she loves.
With a title like House of Ivy & Sorrow and a synopsis that speaks of curses and witchcraft, we fully expect a dark tale when we crack the spine, but though there are undoubtedly dark undertones and painful moments, the overall tone is perhaps a bit lighter than anticipated. The fact that the story itself defies expectation and goes in a slightly different direction isn’t necessarily worthy of complaint, it just takes us a little additional time to adjust and get on board with a protagonist who reads a touch younger than the themes intimated in the synopsis suggest.
Josephine is a fun heroine to follow through this story, keeping the aforementioned darkness surprisingly at bay as she crushes on a young man from a neighboring farm and continually tries to deter her hilarious Nana from spelling him with any number of unfortunate physical ailments for touching or talking to her. Her relationship with her grandmother is a highlight, the two of them sharing a bond that seeps through the pages and warms our hearts, eternally grateful to see a positive familial relationship detailed so beautifully in a genre typically void of parental involvement.
Where we start to stumble just a bit in this story is when Jo’s youth really begins to show, her sometimes irrational anger at people keeping secrets from her coming across to us as largely hypocritical given the number of things she’s keeping from one of her friends and her boyfriend. She’s also quick to jump to conclusions before she has all the information at hand, and instead of standing her ground and demanding the pieces she’s missing from those who can provide them, she runs away to lick her perceived wounds with nary an explanation to those left behind clueless and hurt at her abrupt departure. She does always see the error of her ways and seek to make amends, but the repair of whatever rift she’s caused (and she causes several) seems to happen quickly and easily, leaving us standing in shallow waters when we want nothing more than to dive headfirst into the deep end of her various friendships and relationships.
Though Jo has moments where she frustrates us with her behavior, the witchcraft element of this story is strong and fascinating, the concept of light and dark magic erased completely and replaced with only dark magic and the question of a witch’s control over it. Those who are able to stay in control can wield it for purposes that help rather than harm, but those who allow the magic to control them find themselves consumed. Overall, The House of Ivy & Sorrow has both highlights and lowlights, the equal ratio of the two making for an entertaining if not hugely memorable read.
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.