Review: House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple

April 24, 2014 book review 3 ★★★★

Review: House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie WhippleHouse of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple
Published by HarperCollins
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Genres: Action & Adventure, Science Fiction, Young Adult


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. Fans of Charmed, Kiersten White's Paranormalcy trilogy, and Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Boys won't want to miss this spellbinding contemporary tale of magic, first love, and high-stakes danger.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.


Josephine Hemlock is a witch living in the modern world and with that comes responsibilities. She’s not aloud to tell her two best friends anything about her magic, she’s not allowed or shouldn’t marry a man when she gets older, and biggest of all, she can’t let the magic consume her. In Natalie Whipple’s HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW, no magic is good magic and every spell comes with a price. After her mother was tragically killed by the Curse, Jo and her grandmother have been extra cautious about who they interact with. When a unknown man brings the Curse close to their doorstep, it’s up to Jo, her grandmother, and some unlikely allies to figure out who started this Curse and how to stop it.

HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW could be described as a light paranormal witchy read. While some aspects of the book where very dark and contained some cringe worthy spells, the majority of the book took on a lighter feel. And I was completely okay with that. I’ve seen a lot of people commenting on how it could have been a lot darker, more sinister, more scary. And while I do agree, I didn’t think this book suffered because it wasn’t. I enjoyed reading this book! Was it the best thing I’ve ever read? No, but I thought it was really well-written and it had me glued to the page until the very end. I bought this book and finished it within two days. I’m a huge sucker for witch stories so I was eating this one up.

I liked the world Whipple created and her unique tastes on how witchcraft works. One of my favorite things about novels like this is seeing the author’s interpretation of magic and spells and curses. I especially love when I see something done in a new and fresh way. When Jo is preparing a spell, she must not only include bizarre and rare items such as a mother-bear heart and golden eagle tears, but also must include something the witch has to sacrifice from herself. Sometimes it’s losing the ability to see color for a week, giving up your voice for a few days, or even giving up a fingernail. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen magic done this way and it was fun and worrisome to watch Jo and her grandma conjure these spells. The bigger the spell, the more the witch had to give up.

The mystery behind the Curse is kept a mystery for the majority of the book. It’s not really the who started it but the why that matters and how to ultimately stop it from cursing the Hemlock clan. I really enjoyed getting to watch Jo and her friends dig deep into the archives of witch history to try and figure out what was happening with this Curse. Lots of questions are raised and solutions go unanswered until a pivotal moment towards the end of the book. This book is all about Jo and her finding herself and her abilities to be a good witch, despite thinking she doesn’t have the power like her grandmother and others before her. It’s up to her to solve the problem and to fix it, and I loved that it stayed true to this plotline. There is a bit of a romance thrown in but thankfully it didn’t take center stage, it was just the right amount! If you go into HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW with no expectations, I really think you could enjoy this book like I did!

4 Thought Clouds



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

  1. Natalie Natflixandbooks

    I’m glad you enjoyed this one. I do have it on my Kindle, but just haven’t been able to get to it yet. April and May books are insane! I can’t believe how many books I’m dying to read are coming/have come out this spring. I’m enthralled by witches, but am usually disappointed in books that revolve around them. The fact that this is “lighter” does seem kind of weird to me, but I do like the way it sounds pretty unique. I wish I could take a week off and just read. I hope to get to this one soon. Great review!

    • Christine P

      I am sooo incredibly behind on books it’s not even funny. I have all these books that come out in May that I’m stressing to get to so that my reviews don’t fall even further behind. How do you feel about us flying out to the Caribbean and taking a week off to just relax on the beach and read? Sound like a plan? And about this book, lighter was the best word I could come up with to describe it. It was all doom and gloom, although the Curse is that way. It focused on friendships and family which I really enjoyed. Think of it as having a contemporary spin to it.

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