Book Review : House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple

September 25, 2014 Book review 6 ★★½

The book was a very slow starter for me!  Then it got better.  But then sadly, it faded fast again.  I didn’t hate it and felt it had a lot of potential but needed to dig so much deeper than it did.

Book Review : House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie WhippleHouse of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple
Published by Harper Collins on 2014-04-15
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Source: Edelweiss

Transparent author Natalie Whipple is back with another refreshing blend of realistic romance and light-hearted humor with a one-of-a-kind paranormal touch.

Jo Hemlock is not your typical witch. Outside the walls of her grandmother's ivy-covered house, she's kept her magical life completely separate from her life in high school. But when the Curse that killed her mother resurfaces, it threatens to destroy not only her life but her grandmother's too—and keeping her secret may no longer be an option.

First Line of House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple:

“They say a witch lives in the old house under the interstate bridge.”

My thoughts on House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple:

I’ll admit before I started this book, I saw some negative reviews and it didn’t inspire hope in me for this book.  I also saw other friends who enjoyed the book by lowering their expectations as to the depth of the magical elements.  So I did that but unfortunately I still had issues.

First off, I was wondering what ages the characters were.  It is mentioned early on what year Jo is in at school but as a non US reader, this often confuses me.  So I decided that characters were 14ish.  They sounded more like 12 but I knew they were older than that.  So when I later discovered that Jo and co were actually 17, I was flummoxed.  She sounds so immature and her words and thoughts do not match up to her age.

There were a few other things that felt off.  When Josephine met her long-lost father, she just knew in her bones that he was her father.  Why because he looked like her or because there was a connection between them?  No, because he had freckles. Sigh.  So do lots of men and they aren’t all her father :O

At another time, Josephine is shown a memory that she is glad is in black and white:

“Nana takes hold of a goopy lavender blob I can only assume is me.  So relieved this is not in colour”.

Wait, is lavender no longer a colour!

What I did like about the book was the power of the women and the sense of sisterhood between the witches.  I loved that element as it felt empowering.  I also liked the idea that magic is stored in places and that magic simmers in the air around these spots.  That captivated my imagination.  And the threatening shadows felt furtive and dangerous which added an element of evil that the book needed.

However I don’t think the plot was complex enough or felt dark enough for a gothic witchy read.  The premise was there but then it wasn’t developed enough.  The standards for magical themes have been set so high by Harry Potter, The Raven Boys and Daughter of Smoke and Bone and this book falls far short of those.  In reality this book is a cross between Bewitched and a Disney movie which would appeal more to younger readers and not the YA audience it is pitched at.


Rating Report
Did I feel it?
Overall: two-half-stars


Who should read House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple?

If you like your books light on world-building and are looking for a very light book with witches in it, I would recommend this one.  It didn’t work for me as this wasn’t what I wanted.  A younger reader might appreciate it more than I did as it’s a good introduction to the world of magic.  If you are a fan of The House of Night series by P C Cast and Kristin Cast, you might also like this one.

Thanks to Edelweiss and Harper Collins for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.


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6 Responses to “Book Review : House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple”

  1. Dee @ Dee's Reads

    Yep, totally agree with u on this one! It was a pretty middle of the road type book for me too. I felt like the characters were immature, and it felt more MG than yA. I did like the sisterly and woman-power message though. But yeah, I think I gave this one a three star rating , was hovering near two and half as well. 😐
    Dee @ Dee’s Reads recently posted…Book Review: Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire

    • trish

      I think they should have pitched it as MG as then it would have worked a lot better and I’d say younger readers who are new to the magical genre would enjoy it.
      It did have potential though and I thought the writer could write as she did capture the atmosphere and I enjoyed parts. A little more depth in the characters would go a long way.

  2. Lily

    To be honest this never really got my attention all that much and hearing from you that you weren’t completely in love with it has me not wanting to go near this one. I feel like id just get super frustrated with all the characters and i’m sort of burnt out on witches.
    Hopefully your next read is more enjoyable.
    Lily recently posted…Dangerous Boys:Review

    • trish

      I haven’t really read a lot of witch books but when I do, I want darkness and gothic feels so I did feel let down here. And yes the characters immaturity was really annoying, it just felt so unreal.

  3. Rita @ My Home of Books

    Not for me after reading your review. I remember around the time it released that it got mixed reviews. I will read the occasional YA but if an MG is inaccurately classified as such, I would be turned off. Just not my thing and it sounds as if the writing wasn’t up to par in this story. Thanks for letting us know.
    Rita @ My Home of Books recently posted…Seven Deadly Sins Tag

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