“We didn’t wonder where the magic came from, or why it worked. We never asked ourselves, Is this ours to take? We were three damp ducklings, green as leaves, believing with all our crooked hearts that we were the ones writing this story,” (Albert 97).
Right now in the suburbs, seventeen-year-old Ivy’s summer begins with a naked woman in the middle of the road in the middle of the night, a grounding for her own irresponsibility, and increasingly strange things and dead rabbits that appear as the night with the strange woman passes and Ivy begins to understand something she’s always suspected: her mother has been hiding something. Back then, in the city, the summer Dana Nowak turns sixteen she and her best friend meet a third, strange girl as the three discover their own supernatural powers. They learn and share their magic, amazed by their own power until one of the three’s ambitions grows darker, leading to dire consequences. Ivy and Dana’s stories converge as the dark forces around them rise, begging the question of whether either of them can escape it.
I’m just going to say it because it’s bugging me even though it isn’t really relevant: I don’t like this cover, I think it’s ugly, but I also get it because I think no good bunny covers can exist after Mona Awad’s Bunny came into creation.
Alright, now that that’s out of the way, I like Melissa Albert. Sure, I’ve had a little bit of a mixed experience with the Hazel Wood series, but I did enjoy them for the most part. I think Albert is a great writer who writes some of the most wonderful prose I’ve ever read. Her descriptions are always so clear, I can see everything she’s writing so clearly in my head and Our Crooked Hearts was no different. It’s wonderfully written and I think for the most part, Albert did a great balancing both Ivy and Dana’s storyline which can be hard for any author writing a multi-perspective book, especially for a mother and daughter characters. I think both voices were clear and distinct and it was easy to tell who was who without having to read the beginning of the chapter.
It definitely has it’s cons though. Ivy’s story is very easy to follow, hers happens in a matter of days whereas Dana’s does about twenty years. Now the majority of Dana’s perspective focuses a span of two years, then a quick four years after her teenage years are done, but regardless we read about Dana from her teen years starting into witchcraft until her story lines up with her daughter’s when she is in her late-thirties/early-forties. That is a very long span of time in a very short amount of chapters, and it just doesn’t work. Since Ivy’s chapters are chronological it was easy to relate to her more, to follow what was happening. But Dana’s was so quick that I couldn’t really understand how the witchcraft came so easy, and aside from her close friendship with Fee and meeting her husband I just didn’t feel the same emotional connection I did to Ivy’s story. I still enjoyed both and seeing where they were going, but I probably would have enjoyed Dana’s more if the book were just a bit longer.
And the ending. Why do I have such trouble with endings lately? We wait so long for Ivy and Dana’s storylines to catch-up to each other and then it just sort of…ends. I get what was happening, I get why Albert did it, but I just wanted more. It felt so incomplete, so sudden, like I was expecting so much more only to be left waiting in the dust.
Our Crooked Hearts has all the good dark, witchy vibes and an earthy sort of magic that sticks under your nails, just be ready for the underwhelming ending. Despite this I’ll still read more of Albert, because even though I was disappointed in the end the ride to the finish line was fun.
Publication: June 28 2022
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Pages: 341 pages (Hardcover)
Genre: Fiction, YA, Horror, Paranormal
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤.5
THE SUBURBS, RIGHT NOW . . .
Seventeen-year-old Ivy’s summer break kicks off with an accident, a punishment, and a mystery: a stranger whose appearance in the middle of the road, in the middle of the night, heralds a string of increasingly unsettling events. As the days pass, Ivy grapples with eerie offerings, corroded memories, and a secret she’s always known—that there’s more to her mother than meets the eye.
THE CITY, BACK THEN . . .
Dana has always been perceptive. And the summer she turns sixteen, with the help of her best friend and an ambitious older girl, her gifts bloom into a heady fling with the supernatural, set in a city of magical possibilities and secret mystics. As the trio’s aspirations darken, they find themselves speeding toward a violent breaking point.
Years after it began, Ivy and Dana’s shared story will come down to a reckoning among a daughter, a mother, and the dark forces they never should’ve messed with.