An electronic copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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.
Sadly, House of Ivy & Sorrow didn’t blow me away. I enjoyed the beginning and had high hopes for this book based on those initial feelings. The writing started off strong, with beautiful descriptions and an intriguing concept. I loved Whipple’s take on witch’s magic being dark. So to cast spells and call upon their power there had to be payment often including pain or other negative consequences. I thought I was ramping up to read a dark, witch tale but the further I read the more juvenile the story became.
Granted, this book is targeted to the young adult audience so I should have expected it to have a less mature feel. For some reason the plot and character interactions felt very hollow. I never once became connected to any of the characters and some of their actions and reactions were ludicrous. As mentioned above the price for magic was steep and so there are occasions where the main character and side characters have to mutilate themselves for spell components. This aspect didn’t faze me…what did get to me was the glossing over of the pain and the lack of seriousness paid to what they were doing. It all seemed so easy which, for me, pulled away from the brunt of the reason behind the sacrifice to begin with. I wanted more angst, pain and depth.
Jo, our main character, often times missed obvious clues that I felt she should have seen. This was cause for a bit of frustration on my part but overall she wasn’t a bad character. She did fall into some YA tropes though, the biggest being ugly duckling that happens to blossom (in one night) into the most beautiful girl in town. The romance was really lacking for me as well. They fall head over heels over each other but I never felt anything between them. I think a love triangle was hinted at but it never felt realized to me since I didn’t feel chemistry between anyone.
The entire reading experience was not negative since some of the ideas behind this story were interesting and I was invested enough to continue reading to find out the mystery behind the main plot. I feel that there will be people that will enjoy this book if they can find a connection to the main character, enjoy some of the more high school moments and find the conclusion fulfilling rather than a little too neatly tied up.
I was disappointed with House of Ivy & Sorrow because the characters felt hollow to me and many of the situations seemed juvenile and under-emphasized. I wanted a bit more depth and darkness because the moments Whipple did share were well done.