Monday, March 24, 2014

Review: House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple

House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple
Publisher- Harper Teen
Released- April 15th 2014
Pre-Order- Amazon / B & N

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
My Thoughts: 
Josephine and her Nana are witches and the last of the Hemlock bloodline. Witchcraft can only be passed down from female to female in every witching family. And while the Hemlocks have lived in Willow’s End all of there lives, it’s their land that makes them more of a target for the Curse for its potent magical value.
The Curse has been killing witches for generations and what killed Jo’s mother when she was a little girl, but no one knows who’s behind these attacks and the reason why Jo and her Nana have been hiding ever since. But when a strangely familiar man shows up asking about Jo’s mother, he unknowingly brings darkness and danger with him and could only mean one thing for the Hemlock family. The Curse has finally found them. Now is the time to fight as Jo and her Nana come together to try to unlock the secrets and solve the mystery of who could be hunting them and the witching community for hundreds of years and find a way to finally put an end to the Curse. But Jo must first try to find a way to protect everyone she loves from the shadows that could consume them and before she has no other choice but to suffer the same fate that killed her mother.

House of Ivy & Sorrow is such a cool book! I've always been such a sucker for witches and magic in my escape. There are just so much limitless possibilities that come with this lore and its fun and fascinating to see the imagination and creativity crafted for my favorite kind of genre. This would be my first book by Natalie Whipple, but it won’t be my last. You could tell that she put a lot of thought into her world twisting and turning it in unpredictable ways that was unique, clever and sharp. I really liked the way she writes, despite the pacing being a tad quick at times; the flow of the story was smooth and never had a dull or dragged out moment. This book is easily absorbing and I loved being able to sink into the plot and all the wonderful colorful characters. But my favorite part of this book was the old school magic, complete with secret portals, bubbling cauldrons, and nasty ingredients such as; spiders, eyeballs, bear hearts and crows awaiting disintegration for animated spells. I also liked that there isn’t a good or a bad side to magic, there is only darkness but its how you control that darkness that defines you. Magic can be harnessed through the earth and payment must always be paid, whether from blood, nails, flesh, limbs or one of the five senses. Sure, it’s a bit disturbing at times, but still pretty wicked stuff.

I really loved the entire cast of characters. They all balanced and complimented each other quite nicely and I enjoyed the closeness and bonds between family and friendships.
First off, I adored Nana Dorothea! I’d be dead afraid to have a grandmother like this of course, but I’d also be mighty proud. Nana is a tough old witch that goes above and beyond for her family. I wanted to laugh and cringe for poor Jo at times just thinking about having a boyfriend and hoping against hope that Nana doesn't ruin the night with her meddling interference. But while Nana is strict, she’s also very kind and loving.
Jo is such a sweet character but she’s also full of spunk and fight. She wants what all teenage girls want, a normal life with friends and a boyfriend and the freedom to enjoy her youth without worrying about her Nana striking her boyfriend down with lightning just before she gets her first kiss. But Jo doesn't have a normal life and she’s actually quite wonderful about that. She’s fiercely loyal to her Nana and the magical bloodline she must preserve being the only Hemlock left, she’s accepted her fate and fights every step of the way to protect everyone she loves no matter the consequences.
Gwen and Kat are amazing examples of secondary characters that really affect the story in a positive and uplifting way. It was nice to see strong supportive friendships that didn’t involve a lot of drama or angst and it was nice to see them united together especially since Jo could use all the help she could get to fight this battle.
Winn was such a cutiepie. I loved that he was so down to earth and content with who he is. I love that he’s a farm boy, hard working and knows the value of family. The way he was with Jo was just too adorable for words and I loved the subtle twist in his character.
Another character that I really loved was, Levi. I don’t want to spoil too much but I really enjoyed the complexity of the role he played in the story and how it ties in with Jo’s fate.
The romance between Jo and Winn was completely adorable, light but intense. The storyline was so busy that we didn't get a lot of screen time and I wish we got to see some more uninterrupted moments between the two, but they still managed to make a huge impact. We do have a little competition here, not exactly a love triangle but definitely some amusing conflict.
I also really loved the ending and while this reads like a standalone, I wouldn't mind seeing more books from this world since it has a lot of promise and potential for different plot directions for just about any of these characters.

All in all, I really enjoyed myself with this one. Natalie Whipple writes an intriguing and enchanting take on magic and witchcraft that really impressed me. The storyline is entertaining and unstoppable and the characters were all made of awesome. They’re warm, charming and full of fight. I look forward to discovering more books by Whipple, she’s got a new fan!

Find the author: 
Goodreads / Website                              4 Snowflakes


  1. This looks great and I love the cover! Not a dull moment you say? I can definitely go for that!

    1. This was definitely a fun one for me and I hope you enjoy it as well!:)