Review: House of Ivy and Sorrow

Review: House of Ivy and SorrowHouse of Ivy and Sorrow by Natalie Whipple
Released by HarperTeen on 15 April 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 360
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780062120182
Source: Purchased

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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.

Josephine Hemlock and her grandmother have lived in peace for almost ten years now. Ten years since the Curse took Jo’s mother. But now, the curse is back, bringing more and more danger with it, and not just threatening Jo and her grandmother, but Jo’s friends as well. Together with the Crafts, the Hemlocks must find out who’s behind this curse, and how to stop it. But that won’t be easy.

First of all, I loved the magic in this story. It wasn’t like Harry Potter’s ‘wave your wand and say a spell’ magic, but a bit more darker magic. Some spells needed offerings, like one of your nails (a complete nail, not just a clipping, ew, I felt so grossed out when I read that scene), a piece of your skin, or even a tooth. I liked that (though it was also gross), and I have to say I might even like this magic above HP’s magic (sorry). But, the thing with this kind of magic, is that in my opinion it lacked some action. No awesome light shows every time someone used a spell, no epic battles, just some girls standing above a cauldron making spell potions.

I also loved Jo’s friends; Kat and Gwen. I would have loved to have two friends like that when I was in school, that would have probably made my time at school a lot better. They were shoulders to cry on, they were loyal, loving, they would have probably died to save Jo, and vice versa. I wasn’t such a fan or Maggie, to be honest, I thought she was very hyperactive and annoying; no wonder her mum and aunt left her with the Hemlock’s for a while. She just didn’t know when to leave people alone (there was one point where Winn and Jo were having a ‘moment’ in the car, and all of a sudden Maggie was there staring at them through the car window, creepy much?) and when to shut up.

As for the boys, first of all there’s Winn. After a while, I started to think something was up with that guy. I wasn’t the only one, because Jo had felt it too, and I was a bit shocked and both happy when I found out I was right. I won’t go into much detail of course, because spoilers, but yeah he isn’t what he seems. And Levi, ugh Levi. Actually he reminded me a bit of Morpheus from Splintered/Unhinged. I wanted so slap him at some points in the book, especially after a particular scene in the hospital. Of course, he has had a traumatic life so we’ll all have to forgive him for being an asshole, right? Nope. Not me.

I would have liked Jo more if she hadn’t been pining for Winn all the time. I mean, you’re a witch, you are hunted by a Curse, why are you worrying about your boyfriend all the time, when you should be worrying about your friends being nearly MURDERED because someone wants your house. Oh well, and then there was the hint of a possible love triangle, after which I felt like throwing the book across the room.

Furthermore, I thought the book was very fast paced, something that was good at some points, and a little less good near the end. There were only about ten pages left, and still nothing had happened to that Curse thing, I was starting to feel anxious that the book would have an open ending, and then everything started to feel very very rushed. I liked the writing, which is probably one of the reasons I got through it so fast. Maybe also because the book just felt right. This sounds a bit weird, but I prefered reading this book over the other book I was reading at the same time, because this book just felt a lot nicer when I was holding it. It’s a very flexible book, like Divergent (and they also have the same font, which I just noticed), which made it easier to open it and let it lie opened on the same page.

In the end, I liked House of Ivy and Sorrow for the nice magic that it had, but I would have liked the ending to be a bit longer/less rushed. I do recommend this book if you want a nice story about magic and love, but if you want a dark story about witches, I recommend you find another book to read.