Book Review: House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple

Posted January 20, 2014 by Lori in Books, Reviews / 2 Comments Tags: ,

I received this book for free from Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie WhippleHouse of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple
Published by HarperCollins on 2014-04-15
Genres: fantasy, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Around the World ARC Tours
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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.

House of Ivy & Sorrow was really enjoyable. I haven’t read a lot of witch books so I can’t really say how it fits in regarding the rules of magic with other books but I can say that I really liked how it was done in this book. I also liked the characters and was completely sucked into the story.

Josephine, or Jo, is a teenage witch living with her grandma in a small town. She’s kept her witch identity secret from her friends in order to protect them. It has also meant that she leads two lives, one full of magic and one of a typical high-school girl. But something is coming for Jo and whoever it is knows how important her friends are to her. In order to get Jo to cooperate, they will make her friends suffer. Jo doesn’t want to lose any of them, she’s already lost her mother and never knew her father, which is typical for witches. But she feels both fiercely protective of them and determined not to lose anyone else important to her. As the darkness comes closer, she must learn to be stronger and braver than ever before. If she’s going to protect her friends and her home, she might even have to bend the rules of magic a bit. Jo’s story is full of interesting magic, potions, close friends, and secrets. I really enjoyed it.

My favorite part of this story was the use of magic. Like I said earlier, I’m not too familiar with typical rules of magic and stories of witches, but I was a big fan of how magic was described and used in this book. Instead of having good and evil magic, it is how magic is used that makes the difference. Magic is never free, there is always a price. Using it requires sacrifices, pain, payment of some kind. The bigger the spell, the bigger the payment. Sometimes it’s worth it, sometimes it isn’t. Witches who go too far with magic and want too much, suffer from Consumption. Consumption turns a witch bad and makes them crazy. The potions in the book were very interesting and I liked how each ingredient was important for a specific reason. So much of this book intrigued me. I think I’m going to need to read more witch books.

I also really enjoyed the writing in this book. This is the first Natalie Whipple book I’ve read and every page kept me wanting more of the story. The secrets were revealed at the right times, the romance unfolded in good time, the strength of the characters grew over time, and I was really unsure of who to trust and which way the story would go until the very end. I like books I can get caught up in and this was one of them. I think I’m going to have to check out Transparent soon.

While I really liked the magic and enjoyed the characters in the book, I did have a couple of problems. One was how easily some of the problems were solved at the end. I came to the end of the book and all of a sudden several problems are tied up in a neat little bow. I get that we all like happily ever afters, but sometimes problems require more time to resolve than just a sentence in a paragraph and sometimes characters shouldn’t get everything that they want. Also, I really didn’t like the somewhat forced love triangle that showed up. I don’t want to give any specific moments away, but at one point in the book it seemed as if the author was trying to create a love triangle and it felt forced and out of place to me. I don’t like love triangles to begin with but when they feel forced and unnatural, it becomes a distraction and this one took me out of the story a bit. Neither of these were deal breakers for me, they were just minor annoyances.

I’m really glad I got the chance to read this book. It was interesting and fast moving and full of fun magic. I really liked the focus on friendship and family, as well as the mix of typical teenage girl life and fantasy. The writing for this book kept me intrigued and unsure of where the story was going. I wanted a little less of a happy ending because some of it felt too easy but I’m willing to overlook that a bit because I enjoyed it so much. As far as I can tell, this is a standalone, which is also a plus for this book. While I could see how a sequel could come about at some point, the story is complete without one. I would recommend this book if you like YA fantasy with magic, a little drama, a lot of girlfriends, and happy endings.

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