Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Just the Sorrow, Thanks.

House of Ivy and Sorrow
by Natalie Whipple

On a day just like any other, a stranger appears at the ivy covered gate.  The stranger brings with him a darkness that Jo has never seen before. It is then she realizes that the curse that killed her mother is now coming for her.  But the more Jo and her grandmother find out about the curse and the person pursuing them, the less things make sense.  They need to figure out how they can fight back or else the Hemlock bloodline ends with them.


If you have skipped ahead and taken a look at the one star I gave this novel then you know that I did not enjoy it.  Goodness.  Let's start out with the positive.  The ideas in this novel were really interesting.

  • Magic is always dark and it takes the strength of character to stay good.
  • Magic has a price.  Always.  Be it flesh or tooth or hair or blood.
  • Places as part of the magical equation.
  • Only women can be witches.
  • The witch lore and writing of histories.
In books, television and movies there has always been good magic and then dark magic. A clear divide that lets us know where the line has been drawn.  To say that all magic is dark makes things so much more intriguing and it raises the stakes in the novel for characters. Also, that magic requires payment from the person involved in the spell makes it painful and a lot more than reading a super secret language from an old book.  However, good ideas can only take you so far.  This book was full of them, but they were not executed well and they did not reach their full potential.

Now onto the major points of the novel that quickly destroyed any enjoyment of this book that I could have had.

To start with, the characters were wooden and stiff.  None of them had individual voices that made them stand out.  They were all just puppets that spoke when they needed to for the main character.  Speaking of the main character, I could not connect with her at all.  She seemed to switch from powerful and adult sorceress to vapid teenager.  There did not seem to be consistency there.

Next, the romance.  I was nonplussed by it.  Their story was not written in a way that made me feel invested in their relationship. If anything, Jo and Winn did not make sense.  There was no build-up.  Also, I got the sense that there might have been a love triangle going on? But it was so forced that I do not know why it was included.  Honestly, the reader knows from the beginning that the other guy does not stand a chance.  So, what was the point of having it?

The villain of the story? Forgettable.  They did not have a presence strong enough to make me scared or fearful for the characters.  This leads me to the resolution of the conflict, it was too easy.  Everything was always too simple and it all worked out too well.  The situation involving her friends, especially.  How they were so accepting and ready to offer up painful payments for spells when they had just been introduced to witchcraft five minutes ago.

It was a disappointing read.  The sad thing is that the first few pages of the first chapter had me..  I think if the writer had slowed down, fattened it up in parts and worked on the characters and the dialogue, then this could have been a better book.


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