House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple

April 3rd, 2014 Kimberly Review 66 Comments

3rd Apr
House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple
House of Ivy & Sorrow
by Natalie Whipple
Genres: Paranormal
Source: Publisher
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
Rating: One StarOne Star

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.

House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple drew me in with its beautiful cover and a sample of the first paragraph. A curse has been haunting the Hemlock witches, and when a stranger appears at their door the trouble begins. Mini review: While aspects were enjoyable, it was predictable and more suited to a MG audience.

Caffeinated Aspects:

• From the first paragraph, I was drawn into the story, and it rippled with possibilities. The premise is quite good from the Shadow elements to the witches. I loved the enchanted house and land. I was intrigued by the curse and the Hemlock history.

• Josephine Hemlock is a likable character. She was clever and smart with her craft. Her Nana was fierce and at times humorous with her love of pudding.

• The history of the witches was interesting, and I liked Whipple’s take on them. I found myself all excited by the possibilities that lay before us.

• We meet characters whose intentions we are unsure of. There is Winn; the boy Jo is crushing on and Levi, the dark boy who claims he wants to help Jo. There is no love triangle, and the romance was a nice, light and awkward (along the lines of a first crush).

• The spells and magic were fantastic and oddly weird. I loved their house, the attic wards and the spells they conjured. They travel through magic doors and had old enchanted books.

Decaffeinated Aspects:

House of Ivy & Sorrow had the potential to be dark and intense. The opening paragraph made me tingle and the elements were exciting but instead it stayed very Disney. I would have liked a darker, intense and suspenseful tone to the story. The elements were all there but skimmed over like it had been dubbed for a PG audience. Not that I want to be grossed out or terrified, but you cannot be happy and joking when removing a fingernail. Seriously? No.

• Josephine was clever, but her behavior was along the lines of a 12 year old and not the junior she is supposed to be. Her friends were the same way. A little too giddy and boy crazy even in the midst of danger. Some of her thoughts regarding Winn and Levi had my eyes rolling in the back of my head.

• We don’t really get to know many of the secondary characters beyond their interactions.

• There are animal sacrifices..crows, frog eyes, spiders and the like. If this upsets you, this may not be the book for you.

• We build towards this climax and poof it’s over. I felt cheated.

• The tale was cute making it perfect for a MG audience but I fear its tone will disappoint those who enjoy the YA genre. Where was the Gothic vibe, the darkness and the depth?

While House of Ivy & Sorrow left me craving more depth I would happily pass it along to my middle school niece. Aspects where wonderful, but for me as a reader this was a huge disappointment.


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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw and Howler. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Find @kimbacaffeinate on Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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66 Responses to “House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple”

  1. Lindy

    It’s always disappointing when you are expecting one certain things from a story ad it doesn’t deliver. I like how you structured your review with bullet points of what you liked and didn’t like. This sounds like it might be a good pick for a middle grader, as you suggested. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Kay

    Ahh, feeling cheated is never good when reading. I’m sorry this one didn’t work out for you. I hope your next read is better! I think I’m going to skip this one, mostly because of how immature the characters seem to be according to your description. Thanks for the review!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It wasn’t bad per se Kay, it just really felt like MG.

  3. Mary

    Oh, drat! This has such potential but for it to read like a MG, with young-acting characters and fluffed up “scary” parts, is seriously disappointing.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      The characters were young, but aspects were cool 🙂

  4. Lark

    I don’t like my books too dark, but I don’t necessarily want them to ignore reality, either. Even in MG, pulling out a finger ought to be excruciating. (There’s a reason why doing various nasty things to fingernails was a common torture method!) I may read this eventually, but you’re the second reviewer in a few days to have a similar mixed reaction, so… maybe not. I’m sorry it didn’t live up to expectations, though. Such a lovely cover!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Yeah, promos for it said dark and Gothic and it was anything but. I think if marketed as MG it would have been better received.

  5. Tabitha (

    Oh that is sad you felt cheated. And you know I really like strong secondary characters. I suppose I’ll find out what I think soon! Sometimes a I don’t feel a ‘disney’ feel is oh so bad.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Good luck and I look forward to your take on it. Maybe knowing it is MG going in will make it more enjoyable for you.

  6. Louise Cusack

    Thanks for the review. I like my books quite dark, so this probably isn’t for me, but I do have younger ones I can buy it for. And I love the cover too!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I really thing this will appeal to the younger ones 🙂 thanks Louise

  7. April

    Oh man, it sounds like this one isn’t for me. I was totally crushing on the book FOR the gothic YA aspects. I’m not a huge fan of MG – and when I do read MG I like it to be lighter and fun, because otherwise I feel like I’m getting ripped off on the suspense and darkness I crave in a gothic mystery. It sounds like it had some good points but the parts you didn’t like would be too much for me I think! Bummers! I’m glad I read your review before I purchased it!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I think this is just creepy enough to have mass appeal for the MG genre but I was crushed.

  8. Candace

    It sounds like they should have just made this for MG. I have to say, I LOVE the cover! But the reviews haven’t been great so I think I’ll resist from buying this one. Sorry it wasn’t a bit better for you.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I think it would have been a hit if marketed as MG and agree the cover is gorgeous.

  9. Kim { Book Swoon }

    Oh, I had such high hopes for House of Ivy & Sorrow, and like you mentioned, I was hoping since it was ya that I would love this dark and strange world and characters. But, with you mentioning it feeling more of a MG title, I still may want to take a peek anyways since I read a lot of those with my youngest daughter. Thanks for pros/cons review – so helpful, Kimba 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I really think it will be just the right amount of gross and creepy to satisfy a young reader 🙂

  10. Lauren

    Oh no, this sounds like it had so much potential, but I know it would disappoint me. On the plus side, I don’t have time to read it, so I feel pretty good about my choice to skip it now. Lovely honest review!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Thanks Lauren, I was so hoping it would be dark like the Cahill Witches but alas no.

  11. Carmel

    Urgh! WP ate my comment, so I am trying this again…

    I haven’t read one single good review for this book, and the fact that you had to split it up in terms of what you liked and what you didn’t like, is never a good sign. I’m going to steer clear of this one. Such a shame, because I love the cover.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      This is one of the many new formats I am mixing into review posts. It wasn’t a bad book in that I think a middle grade student would think aspects were creeptastic but it was not Gothic or dark as promoted.

  12. Sophia

    Oooo, I thought this was published already. o_o Really pretty cover and storyline according to the synopsis. Sorry you didn’t enjoy it! 🙁

  13. Lily B

    Hum… well then, that’s unfortunate to hear really :/ did look like it had potential.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      *shuffles feet* I know I was so excited and then so sad 🙁

  14. Melissa (Books and Things)

    Oh poo… I was hoping for something dark. I thought the same as you did and was attracted to it for the same reasons. Maybe I won’t be so disappointed now that I know what to expect. The book is coming up on my tbr review pile.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      The teasers for this promised a Gothic tale..nope. If you expect a light, MG with hints of darkness you should enjoy it.

  15. Heidi

    Ugh! No to the sacrifices. I haven’t read any great reviews on this one and I have no interest. Thanks for the warning. Your post wasn’t in my Bloglovin feed today 🙁 Luckily, I remembered to head over here 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Don’t even get me started on Bloglovin’ they keep assuring me it is an issue with them. I started a suggestion thread for the ability to pull your own feed (like Tribber, Network Blog etc). Thanks for checking on your own, I appreciate it Heidi. As for

  16. Braine Talk Supe

    Yikes! Sounds like a lot opportunity or it could also be false marketing? I hate it when a book is advertised as something only to find out it’s completely a different genre. Maybe if you read this with the premise that it’s MG-Fantasy, maybe you’ll feel differently about it?

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It is most definitely paranormal and the protagonist is 17 bit the whole thing feels very middle grade

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I love the cover too Finely and the teasers for this were fantastic

  17. Dre

    I’ve read from Mel that it did feel like an MG read. I don’t think this is something that I will enjoy, based on your decaffeinated aspects. And I think Josephine sounds annoying. Thanks for the honest review!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Thanks Dre, I do think for a younger audience this would be well received.

  18. Christa

    I do like witch books so I’m curious to see what she does with them. but it’s too bad it isn’t quite at the level it could be.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      thanks Christa, I was disappointed but those who enjoy MG should try it.

  19. aurian

    Well, that is a shame, but perhaps this is a marketing problem, and it was the intention of the author to write MG?

  20. Michelle

    It’s a shame that it could be more suited for a MG audience, that would be a deal breaker for me.

    on a side note: I like the whole Caffinated and Decaffinated split in your review. Very cute.

    On an extra side note: I finally took the plunge and bought a domain to self host. Now I am going to check out all of your wp plugin posts and stuff on the UBB plugin which I also am the proud owner of. I’m a little overwhelmed but I am hoping to get most of the kinks worked out by this weekened when I will be migrating over 🙂

    I was excited and just wanted to share that with you. haha

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Ooo all of your side notes have me smiling ans squeeing for you! Shout if you need help and congrats Michelle!

  21. Berls

    I was thinking that maybe I’d enjoy this, as long as I went in expecting a more MG story. But then the animal sacrifices came up and I was out. Seems strange that a book that is so otherwise suited for a younger audience would include something so dark! Combined with a junior acting like a 12 year old it sounds like maybe the author didn’t have a solid fix on the age group. Too bad, it definitely had me interested.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Here is the thing, all the sacrifices and self mutilation for casting spells…was told with humor and no real squirmy details. You know that Disney movie Halloweentown. It came out in the late 90’s and my young girls loved it..this is how the tale reads.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      No, not even for the age group assigned to this genre..definitely middle school

  22. Rita

    Too bad it doesn’t sound like my type of story. But thanks for a really good review. It let me know I should pass this one by. Thanks!

  23. Jenny

    I agree Kim, this one definitely read younger for me than I was anticipating. Like you, I expected more darkness I guess, particularly with that title, so I was a little surprised to find it more lighthearted (in places). Still, it was a quick read at least for me, and I’m glad there were some things about it you liked as well:)

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Yeah, I expected a dark Gothic feel and the teaser I read was wonderful..the MC is 17 but honest to goodness she acted more like someone in middle school. I was bummed.

  24. Christine

    That’s such a bummer! I’ve had my eye on this one (that gorgeous cover!), but this does sound like a disappointing read 🙁

  25. Jenea

    I liked Jo and Winn too, and Nana was great! I think the plot itself it what just let me down too, especially the whole doing things to their bodies and not thinking twice about it. Eww. The cover whore in me loved the cover though.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I liked the concept of a price paid, but it was all very weird.

  26. Silvia

    What a shame… I agree about the cover, I’m just sad the book wasn’t what you expected. I can totally see your disappointment, at least the younger crowd seems to have good chances to enjoy it.

  27. Natasha

    I love this book so much but I do agree with you that some of the darker aspects of the book particularly regarding the witchcraft was glossed over. Maybe because it’s YA? I’m just glad that this is not part of a series. It’s a very good stand alone in my opinion.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am really glad you enjoyed it Natasha, it just felt very young to me.

  28. Christy

    Ru-roh … Well, even though it wasn’t a book that didn’t get you jumping for joy, it’s good to know it’s something you’d still recommend to a younger crowd.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Agreed while I was seriously disappointed my 10 year old niece would probably find it thrilling

  29. Naomi

    It’s a shame you didn’t enjoy this as much as you hoped. It really sounds like a good read. I’m not a MG reader… you know I’m more of a NA nowadays, so I probably wouldn’t grab this one.

    Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I expected it to be a Gothic, YA..on the darker side..sadly it was not.