House of Ivy & Sorrow
By Natalie Whipple
Expected publication April 15, 2014 by HarperTeen
Jo's grandmother is actually the witch that lives in the spooky old ivy-covered house. Jo is a witch, too, and she and her grandmother are the last two Hemlocks left. Her mother was killed by a terrible Curse and she's been on the run from it since. Now, it seems like all the magical barriers they've put in place are failing - the shadows have found Jo.
I could not resist a book with such an intriguing name and graphically pleasing cover. I whipped through the e-galley of this book recently. That was one of my favorite things about this book - quick and compelling read. I really wanted to get the whole story, so I would have liked to read this without putting it down if that had been possible. The chapters are short and the pacing is quick - the action comes at a pretty steady clip so this book is a really fast read.
I also really liked Jo - she is an easy girl to relate to and therefore, it's easy to get on her side. Yes, she is a pretty powerful witch, which is not typical for a teen girl, but she also has typical teen problems. She's funny and interesting with a touch of melodrama, which really works in this situation. I also really enjoyed Jo's grandmother - if there has to be another dead mom, then reading about this grandmother is a decent balm for that. She's quite amusing, though maybe a little much on the quirkiness scale.
The mythology is a bit different than what I've seen in other witch stories, though the female-only bit is pretty common. I really liked the Curse and loved discovering how it really worked and Jo's quest for answers propels the book along. I was expecting a bit more darkness from the title than the book actually delivers but, overall, I found it a fun and quick read.
Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via Edelweiss.