Book review: 'House of Ivy and Sorrow' casts irresistible spell
"House of Ivy and Sorrow" by Utah author Natalie Whipple is a story about finding the light in dark situations and recognizing what is most important to you. With vivid world-building, a lively cast of characters and a plot that twists and turns, Whipple has cast an irresistible literary spell.
When Josephine Hemlock was 7 years old, her mother was killed by a dark curse. Now, 10 years later, Josephine and her nana are hiding out in their magical home, trying to pass off as normal citizens, hoping to avoid the same fate.
Things are going well, and Josephine starts going out with the boy she has a crush on. Then, a man shows up at their door, possessed by a strong, dark spell, and everything changes.
The world Josephine tried so hard to hide collides with the normal life she wanted so much to enjoy, causing friction in the lives of all involved.
Whipple sets the novel in small-town Iowa where the magic is bigger than the cornfields. She perfectly infuses bits of magic into the ivy-covered house and other places in town, so when the spells require different animals eyeballs or bones or the sacrifice of a fingernail, it is not only believable but also written with such imagery that the scenes jump off the page.
Josephine, Nana and the other witches in the story are each special in their own way. Whipple not only writes the main characters but also knows and shares their genealogy multiple generations back. This deepens the connection the reader has with the characters and adds depth to the story.
"House of Ivy and Sorrow" is full of the darkness and consequences of magic but also has glimpses of humor and the importance of family and friends that add a lightness to the book. Whipple keeps the reader guessing as to who the real enemy is and how far Josephine will go to stop them.
The battles, deaths and fingernail-ripping aren't detailed or gory. This novel contains some swearing and light kissing scenes.
If you go ...
What: "House of Ivy and Sorrow" launch party and Natalie Whipple book signing
When: Wednesday, April 16, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Pleasant Grove Public Library, 30 E. Center St., Pleasant Grove
What: Natalie Whipple book signing, including "Relax, I'm a Ninja" and "Blindsided"
When: Thursday, April 17, 6:30-7:30 p.m., and Friday, April 18, 2-3 p.m.
Where: Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience, Salt Palace Convention Center
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