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House of Ivy & Sorrow Paperback – April 15, 2014

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen (April 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062120182
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062120182
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #688,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up—Josephine, 17, lives with her grandmother in a house under the interstate where it's rumored that an old witch can make someone love you if you're willing to give her your pinkie finger. Jo knows that the rumors are true, because her grandmother is that witch. Despite going to great lengths to hide the fact that she's part of a long line of witches, Jo lives a fairly typical life until a mysteriously familiar man comes looking for her. She and her grandmother know that he's somehow connected to The Curse that killed her mother 10 years earlier, but they don't know how, since men are not capable of doing magic. They break tradition and learn more about themselves while uncovering centuries-old secrets. Unlike many supernatural tales, this one does not perpetuate good witch/bad witch or light magic/dark magic themes. Jo is clear that "There is only dark [magic]. A black pool full of power and pain." The story also stresses that there is always a price to pay for using one's powers, even for good purposes, and every character must deal with the consequences of their choices. This is a fast-paced fantasy, with just the right amount of romance and realism. Readers will relate to Jo's relationships with her family, crush, and two best friends. Despite the current glut of supernatural and urban fantasy, this tale will stand out.—Sunnie Lovelace, Wallingford Public Library, CT

From Booklist

Josephine Hemlock’s family has lived in Willow’s End, Iowa, relatively safe inside magical barriers designed to keep out the Shadows and their deadly Curse. But with the unsettling and unexpected appearance of Jo’s father and a shadowy teenage boy, Levi, the entire Hemlock family is now in danger. Jo must face the daunting task of saving her grandmother or becoming the head of the clan. The magical aura permeates the story with vivid and gross descriptions of death by the Curse, and conjured spells demanding pulled fingernails and teeth. But Whipple melds Jo’s witch world with her happy, mundane high-school life, including a sweet romance and the support of Jo’s friends; both anchor the strangeness in refreshing reality. Add to this a grandmother who would make Richard Peck proud, as well as a subtle message about the importance of control over consumption, and you have a delightfully different, suspenseful YA escape. Grades 7-10. --Frances Bradburn

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Because of that the characters are very approachable.
So if that kind of thing pushes your bad buttons, this might not be the thing for you.
This book is a very fresh approach to the "witch and their magics" story.
SherryG of Tulsa

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Alyssa on April 15, 2014
Format: Paperback
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Ecopy from Edelweiss

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

What I Liked:

Well, I definitely did not expect to like this book as much as I did! I'm not a fan of witch-related books, to be honest, so I surprised myself by downloading this one in September. I can't say I regret it! I enjoyed this book, much to my surprise and pleasure.

This book involves what people typically think of witches - with the cauldrons, spells, creepy house, etc. Jo lives with her grandmother, so that doesn't hurt the illusion either. But things start to get weird when a man shows up at the house (mansion? castle?), looking for Carmina - Jo's dead mother. But Jo's mother didn't just die - she was killed by the Curse, which sucked away her witch powers and killed her. But even weirder things are uncovered, and Jo must race against time to figure out what exactly is going on.

One of the things that really impressed me was how "witchy" this story really was.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lauren on April 18, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Witch books are by far my favorite reads so when I seen House of Ivy & Sorrow I didn’t have to think twice about reading it. One plot point that I love reading about and do not see enough is Curses so this was an absolute must read for me.

I LOVED these characters, honestly. Nearly every single person in Josephine’s life was just fantastic. They weren’t particularly fleshed out or stellar but they were altogether a great group of family and friends and I had to appreciate that. Josephine was strong-willed and stubborn and those are always qualities that draw me in to protagonist. Plus she had a great relationship with her friends & family and really held them close to her heart. Jo’s grandmother was just hilarious at times but she was very strong and a great parent to Jo. I don’t want to delve too far into the characters because there are some plot points intertwined with them and it would spoil the effect of the story to discuss much.

The main story, while quite predictable was so enjoyable. There were a few things that threw me for a loop but it was so well written and action based that I couldn’t put it down. All of the intricate elements that were involved from the Curse to the histories were so attention grabbing and I easily read this in two sittings.

The romance between Jo and Wynn, probably might be one of my favorites as of late. It was innocent, sweet and lovely to read about. They knew each other for several years, were friends first and I was definitely in their court the whole time.

One thing that I did notice and it stuck out fairly strongly for me, especially towards the end of the novel was this read more like a slightly older middle grade novel. Not quite young adult but on the older age scale of middle grade, if that makes sense.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Barbara on April 22, 2014
Format: Paperback
“They say a witch lives in the old house under the interstate bridge.” Thus starts the story of House of Ivy and Sorrow. What could be better? Doesn't that feed you an immediate image and make you want to know more? An old Victorian house with a tower, covered with ivy, and a front door that opens onto either of two different parts of town, depending on where you want to go. Crack!

This is an amazing book with a rich and well thought-out magical world. The cardinal rule: “You cannot get something for nothing.” Everything has a price. Dead spiders, a lock of hair, a fingernail. The more powerful the magic, the more you have to pay. As the tension mounts up and the problems become more dangerous, you cringe when you see the consequences of that rule.

The story is as much about our junior witch, Jo, and her two best friends, as it is about the ancient family curse her senior witch grandmother is fighting. Magic is supposed to be a secret but … friends are friends, and they find out. There is also a love triangle with Jo and two guys who are very different, but both so great that you have a tough time deciding who you want her to prefer.

The writing is imaginative. Magic is described as being “dark and warm, like melted chocolate coating my lungs.” It is strong. When Jo tells her grandmother about seeing an ominous stranger, she says: “Her eyes snap to mine.” It is vivid. When the evil force behind the curse attacks, “the sky screams.”

It's a great book. I almost wish it was an adult novel instead of a young adult book, so it could be longer. There is enough going on. And you won't be able to figure out the ending. It's a page-turner.
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