Saturday, May 24, 2014

Book review: House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple

House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple
Source: eARC via HarperTEEN / Edelweiss 
My rating: 3 of 5 stars :star :star :star

A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Actual Rating: 3.5 stars

I was extremely excited when I got the eARC of this book. The cover was gorgeous, the premise was intriguing, and I love books about witches! Then I started to see all the negative reviews, and, it was hard not to let it affect my excitement. So By the time I started reading it I was totally apprehensive and was expecting more of a watered down witch book (since a few reviews said it was middle grade-y). Maybe that's why I enjoyed this book so much, because I was expecting something awful.

That's not the only reason, far from it. I just liked the story. Josephine (Jo for short) is a witch. Her and her Nana are the last of the Hemlock line of witches, after her mother Carmina died. Jo is 17, and she acts 17 (in a good way). She's smart and strong, resourceful and every bit a teenager. She's had to deal with a lot after her mothers death. And now her moms murderer may be coming after her and her Nana - inflicting them with the terrible Curse that killed her mom. Her two best friends,  Kat and Gwen are there to help. Oh and her cutie boyfriend Winn, has some secrets but deep down he's a trustworthy guy (right?) But then, what about the. Mysterious dark haired boy Levi who is surrounded by shadows?

To those who said this book was too middle grade, I say this. We have a scene where a pliers pulls off a fingernail, Kat has to pull out hunks of her own hair as payment for spells, and the ending - well, let's just say those pliers came back to work with some teeth and flesh. Middle grade -- are you kidding me?!  Jo goes pretty far withher love, Winn , which I liked because I found it more realistic (I'm getting annoyed with the surge of abstinence fueled young adult I've been reading lately).

I also really respected Jo for standing strong but still grieving for her mother at times too. In fact, I was surprised at times with how dark the book got. I liked that it wasn't all boys and secrets -- there was real pain, and real life too. Her dad was cool, and their family had more of a modern feel to it. Her aunt had a girlfriend, this was mentioned in. A totally natural way, not at all as a gimick to be a LGBT friendly book. More like  hey...this is real life. The author mentions it in a way just as natural and unassuming as if it had been an ex-boyfriend. Major props!

For once we have a stand alone novel that had an ending that wrapped it all up. Maybe it was a little too neat for my liking, hence the 3.5 stars. Other than that, I loved the gritty scenes, the adolescent scenes, and witchy plot. I recommend it for those of you who are obsessed with witch books like I am. 

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(aka Dee) has loved reading for as long as she can remember. She loves many things: fantasy novels, young adult fiction, her cat, painting, and horror films from the 70s. Diamond is a grad student at UCLA. She's pursuing a Master's in Library and Information Science.


  1. Ooh! Now my hopes are back up again! I don't think I've read any completely negative reviews of this book, but most of them were just "meh" reviews. And the way you described this, it really doesn't sound like a middle grade book to me. I've had bad luck with witch books in the past, but now I'm excited to read this book! Great review :)

    1. I know what you mean about all the "meh" responses to this book. I was expecting something kinda bad, and cheesy like middle grade = but I got some good witch bits in this book. I love witch books, but its hard to find a good YA witch book in my opinion. I did like this though...and it was cool that it was a standalone. I have way too many series at this point! lol ;)

  2. Oh, that cover! It just look so cool! I totally don't mind middle-grade books, but based on your review, this book probably doesn't go into middle-grade territory! :O It does sound plenty dark, but also plenty interesting. :)

    Great review, Diamond! I'll keep my eyes out for this one! :D

  3. I'd decided to pass on this since the writing style in her first book just didn't mesh with my reading style. But now you've convinced me to give this one a second chance. I love witch books!
    Jen @ YA Romantics


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