Published by HarperTeen on April 15, 2014
Genres: Romantic, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Sexual Content: Nothing to speak of
Reviewed by: Libbie
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.
I will say this straight off the mark, HOUSE OF IVY AND SORROW isn’t for the squeamish. These ladies are old school witches. No wands, no orbs, no gentle brushes of wind or power. Eye of newt, toe of frog, fingernail of best friend, and then some, the author doesn’t balk at outlining spell and potion ingredients. So if that kind of thing pushes your bad buttons, this might not be the thing for you.
That said, I really enjoyed this story. Okay, Jo rings a few Mary Sue bells, but it’s not nearly as jarring as I’ve seen done before. She’s done the ugly-duckling-to-swan transformation, and the hot guy likes her, but there’s so much more to Jo than wanting the hot guy. In fact, Winn is more of a secondary character. He becomes more integral as the story progresses, and even then, it’s because of reasons other than love or triangles. She’s strong in her magic, confident in her abilities, and while her ugly duckling stage irked her, it didn’t define her.
I loved the way the magical lore was written into HOUSE OF IVY AND SORROW. The magic flows mother to daughter, and it’s a fully feminine society. Men are taken as lovers, and provide the witches with daughters, but never marriage or forever. When a witch becomes pregnant, she brings her daughter to their family home and raises her in the craft.
And that’s what HOUSE OF IVY AND SORROW is all about – powerful women fighting a truly evil foe and finding strength with each other, in the family your born with and the family you choose. The book itself is a written as a stand-alone, but there’s a little wiggle room for more from this universe and I really hope we get another.Series Titles: