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
Published by: HarperCollins
Genres: Paranormal
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon
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.


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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About Kimberly

Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. She’s a self-professed Whovian, as well as a Supernatural, and Sherlock Holmes junkie, She enjoys sharing books, tips, recipes and hosting the Sunday Post. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat…

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

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  1. 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.

    Natasha recently posted: Review: The Ring and the Crown
    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  2. 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.

    Silvia recently posted: "On Demon Wings" by Karina Halle
    • kimbacaffeinate

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

    • 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.

  3. 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

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

  4. 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.

    Berls recently posted: Life of a Blogger | Handwriting
    • 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.

  5. 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!

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

    • 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

  6. 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.

    Melissa (Books and Things) recently posted: 10% Happier by Dan Harris
    • kimbacaffeinate

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

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  7. 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.

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  8. 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 🙂

    Kim { Book Swoon } recently posted: Book Review: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
    • kimbacaffeinate

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

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  9. 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.

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      The characters were young, but aspects were cool 🙂

  12. 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!

    Kay recently posted: Library Loot #18
    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  13. 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 🙂