Maybe the author won't appreciate my adjectives (fun and delightful.) Yes, there's some tension and near-death danger, but still, the overall feel is fun. I hope that's what Whipple was going for.
Jo, our main character, lives with her grandmother. They are the remaining two members of the Hemlock family of witches. Someone cursed Jo's mother, and she died. Now, it appears that someone is after Jo and her grandmother. This someone has to be another witch -- a very dark witch.
I liked the take on how magic works. If you're going to cast a spell to get something, a payment is required. This might be losing one of your senses for awhile, or losing a fingernail -- depending on how much you are asking for.
Now, there is some gore. Because of the losing the fingernail stuff. And sometimes a hunk of skin. This was pretty much glossed over. The victim is in excruciating pain and in the next sentence we are moving on. I didn't think that aspect was quite dramatic enough. I really don't know if I could pull out my fingernail -- but it seemed relatively easy for these characters to do.
The magic is supposed to be kept a secret, but inevitably some mortals must find out. They are just way too accepting. It's like, "Really? You've got to be kidding!" Then it's, "OK. What do you want me to do?" Or, "What? I almost died?" Then, "OK. What's next?" But, I guess all that just adds to the lighthearted feeling of The House of Ivy & Sorrow.
I loved the characters, especially Jo. She makes some questionable decisions, but in character for a teen. Jo is strong, smart, and determined. A great heroine. The theme of friendship and "friends as family" is powerful.
Ultimately, The House of Ivy & Sorrow is a classic Good Against Evil story, but it's done well, and I enjoyed every minute with these characters. I think many of my teen readers, and even younger teens, will too.
Published by HarperTeen, April 15, 2014
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
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