House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple
The Skinny: 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. – From Goodreads
BFF?: Josephine, or Jo, Hemlock is the kind of BFF I want. She’s got this amazingly diverse personality that’s both strong and witty and wise beyond her years while at the same time being unquestioningly teenage. She is also a fierce friend to her two best friends, but wary of outsiders. Her loyalty to her family is also something I don’t get to see very often; between her friends and her family, I quickly grew to like this girl a lot and wanted to be part of this close circle.
Readability: Jo’s voice feels extremely natural but at the same time reflects the fact that she’s wise beyond her years (seriously love saying this). The writing was also very lush and vivid, painting scenes so imaginative that it felt very real to me. Which I know is contradictory but when you read you’ll get what I mean.
Crush Level: 5
I’m not really sure what it is about boys named Winn that doesn’t do it for me. Sure, this guy was really sweet and the romantic scenes with him were a little steamy in that “falling in love” kind of way. But something about him was just… ordinary. He’s just a guy that Jo starts dating. Nothing special. Until he is… dun dun dunnnnnn! Okay, really, he’s a great guy and I did like him for Jo. I truly felt I was falling for him right alongside her. But he didn’t get my heart racing enough to warrant more than a 5.
This is not your standard double double boil and bubble type witchcraft. It’s “here, pull off your pinky nail with these pliers and toss it in the pot” type witchcraft. Had this been a movie, I would have had to cover my face quite a bit. Like most witchcraft there are rules galore and I really loved learning more about the difficulty and sacrifice of performing spells. Even though it mostly grossed me out.
I love saying grimoire. It’s such a cool word. Grimwoire. All of the witches in Jo’s family have written their own and they’re stored in Jo’s house. I won’t give much away about them, but the scenes where they have to access them were brilliant.
Commencement Speech: I’ve had this one from Edelweiss for longer than I can remember and had my eyes on it for even longer. So glad I finally decided to read it! I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into but loved it once I did. I think what made this book a solid win for me was the large amounts of girl power in it. It was actually really well done and not a “Oh, girls rule boys drool” kind of way. We have this family made entirely of women who look out for one another, who share such a strong bond it’s nearly impossible to break. They’re tested repeatedly and still hold fast to one another. I know that’s not really girl power, but it was almost beautiful seeing such a diverse group of strong women coming together for the greater good.
If you like a good witch book, this is definitely for you. But even if you’re not 100% into witches, I think this one might be a good one to try anyway. Yes, it’s primary focus is on defeating the bad guy, but it’s got so many other wonderful things in it: family, friendship, falling in love, connecting with parents, secret pasts, hidden agendas. Highly recommend you check this one out!
Yearbook Quote: “So quiet.” He smirks. “You don’t strike me as the silent type.”
“You don’t deserve words.”
Superlatives – Most likely to be more than bibbidi bobbidi boo.
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