Author: Natalie Whipple
Published: April 15th 2014
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Source: Publisher for review
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.The House of Ivy and Sorrow is my second book by Natalie Whipple and like her debut Transparent, I found it entertaining, but far from impressive. It is a cute, but entirely forgettable story about a young witch and her small community.
By now, you’ve probably realized that this cover and title are awfully misleading. The House of Ivy and Sorrow is a far cry from the dark, gothic novel I’d been hoping to read. Deceptive advertizing doesn’t work in this book’s favor, and I can’t for the life of me understand why someone would do it.
On the other hand, I appreciate a decent sense of humor, and Natalie Whipple certainly has it. I’ve taken the time to read a few reviews right before starting this novel, so I knew to expect more silliness than anything else. If you take it as such, The House of Ivy and Sorrow can be quite entertaining. It’s only if you go into it expecting a serious novel that you’ll end up sorely disappointed.
Josephine Hemlock is strong, opinionated, likeable and unfortunately, unmemorable. She strikes me as a character written for readers, not for herself. She is exactly the type of girl everyone can like, without risky idiosyncrasies to make her stand out. I found her characterization to be sorely lacking, in nuance or in depth.
The story itself is interesting enough – with better characters and better background, it had the potential to become amazing. I liked this idea of a curse following Jo and her family, and I thought the witch lore was original and interesting. But without good characters to back it up, none of it is worth very much.
The House of Ivy and Sorrow might work for younger readers, just like Transparent, but as an adult, I don’t think Whipple is the right author for me. Her lack of attention to details and superficial characterizations are impossible to overlook.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.