I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by HarperTeen on April 15, 2014
Source: the publisher
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 blew me away! It was fast-paced, dark and intriguing. It was darker than any witch book I’ve ever read, with fascinating takes on witchcraft. I devoured it – literally, every time I sat down to read it, I read huge chunks of it at a time (60-100 pages per hour) – and for me, that’s fast!
Josephine was an amazing character. She was smart, resourceful and always conscious of the consequences of magic. She didn’t stand by, waiting for others to save her; she did what she had to to ensure her survival, as well as to protect her loved ones. Her friends, Kat and Gwen, were amazing, as well. They were more like sisters than friends and that played a significant role in the end of the book. Their sisterhood reminded me so much of the television show Charmed and that made me love it even more!
I loved Winn so, so much. He and Josephine were absolutely adorable. There were so many ups and downs with their storyline, though, I had a few moments where I was ready to sob like a baby. But I’m definitely pleased with how things ended for them. And though I was Team Winn throughout most of the book, I did seriously love Levi. If this was part of a series, I could see him being the second love interest in a love triangle and then I’d root for him all the way until the end!
As I mentioned before, I loved Whipple’s take on magic and witchcraft and the idea of light versus dark and control versus consumption. The idea that all magic is evil, that it all requires a sacrifice and it all has consequences, was completely fascinating. In almost every book about witches and magic that I’ve ever read, there’s always good magic versus evil magic and good magic never seems to have consequences. So I really loved that and this was definitely a darker story because of that.
I loved the “power of the name” concept. I’ve seen this a lot in Faerie books, where knowing a person’s “true name” means you hold power over them. This was briefly touched on in this book and I found it interesting. I wish there had been more follow-through with this, though. We really didn’t find out what the consequence was for the name being revealed to the enemy. Another thing I found fascinating was the fact that Hemlock Witches only have girls and men can’t hold magic. This, like the sisterhood between Josephine, Kat and Gwen, reminded me a lot of Charmed. It’s such a fascinating idea and the way Whipple played off that and twisted it into the plot was amazing.
Overall, House of Ivy & Sorrow exceeded my expectations. I’ve been fascinated with it for months, ever since I first heard about it. I love witch stories and the cover caught my eye. After reading the book, I can safely say it is in my top five for favorite witch books. This was also my first Natalie Whipple book (I have Transparent on my TBR!) and I can say with 100% certainty that I’ll be reading everything she writes from now on. I HIGHLY recommend this book!