Book Review: House of Ivy and Sorrow by Natalie Whipple

I received an ARC of House of Ivy and Sorrow from the Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, GA. Initial feelings – I really like the cover and I’m excited to give it a shot! Post feelings – lots of feelings!

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House of Ivy and Sorrow centers around high schooler and young witch Josephine. She lives with her eccentric grandmother in rural Iowa (I think all magical families require an eccentric elder). Josephine is your typical seventeen year old with two best girlfriends and a major crush on a cute farmer boy. Not so side note, she is also a powerful witch.

I thoroughly enjoyed the approach to magic in this novel. Maybe because I don’t have too much experience with witchy story lines (except for Buffy and Beautiful Creatures), I thought it was unique. In Whipple’s world, all magic is dark and using magic comes with a price (fingernails, flesh, temporarily losing one of your senses, you get the idea). If you aren’t careful, you will become Consumed by the magic you channel and the magic will use you up. Josephine’s family is Cursed, her mother died from the mysterious curse and her grandmother will do anything to protect Josephine. In typical YA fashion, everything is going great for Josephine (date with farmer boy anyone??) when a stranger turns up in town asking about her mother and everything gets turned upside down.

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Overall, I enjoyed this story but there was one major draw back. About two thirds of the way through the book, I started thinking there is no way this plot can be wrapped up in one book. I started thinking ‘oh man, yet another series to follow, why can’t people write just a stand alone novel anymore.’ I kept on reading thinking ‘no way this is going to end, no no way’. I compare it to the way I felt while reading A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. Then, surprise surprise, bam climax, bam book’s over. WHATTTTT?! No cliff hanger, like it actually ended. I was truly disappointed that I wasn’t left hanging. Considering Whipple did such a great job of setting the scene, building the characters, the ending felt so rushed; I really was in disbelief that it was over. I’m still in disbelief haha. The ending was tied up like a nice neat present that I did not want receive. As I said, I did enjoy the novel. I want visit Josephine’s small town of Willow’s End and explore her house (and her attic), I want to meet a talking cat, and I want to know more about enigmatic Levi! Here’s to holding onto hope there is a second book?

Other recent January reads include Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson (crazy unexpected ending!!) and Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (another delightful Rowell read).

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