Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert

Title: Our Crooked Hearts
Series: n/a
Author: Melissa Albert
Source/Format: NetGalley; eARC
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Flatiorn Books; June 28, 2022

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
Secrets. Lies. Super-bad choices. Witchcraft. This is Our Crooked Hearts, a darkly gripping contemporary fantasy from Melissa Albert, the New York Times bestselling author of The Hazel Wood

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. 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.


I rarely ever stay up to finish a book, but it does happen. With Melissa Albert’s latest novel, Our Crooked Hearts, I was thoroughly engaged with the story. And by the time I finished the book and checked the time, it was already after two in the morning and I’d read it basically in one sitting. Our Crooked Hearts was a ride. It was a tale of magic, ambition, the relationships between mother and daughter (and friends), and all the ways that those things could go horribly wrong when the cost of magic is thrown into the fray.

Our Crooked Hearts begins with a mystery, and the dual timelines (past and present) run alongside each other until they reach the point where they inevitably connect. It had the feel of a modern fairy tale: equal parts atmospheric and magical with the dark undertones of a mysterious forest that gives the impression of something lurking. It’s pretty in line with what I’ve come to expect from Albert’s stories. After all, dark and whimsical—magic and the importance of stories—were hallmarks of The Hazelwood, The Night Country, and Tales from the Hinterland.

The present side of the story follows Ivy. After a bad decision and an accident, her plans for the summer pretty much go up in smoke. However, ruined plans don’t hold a candle to the string of events that begin with that night. At first, it could have been strange but a coincidence. But things quickly don’t add up, and the strange occurrences take on a dangerous and frightening edge. Caught up in there was the fraught relationships between Ivy and her family, particularly with her mother. Mistakes, miscommunication, and long kept secrets are the kind of messy family dramas that I like. It certainly kept me turning the pages.

Meanwhile the past follows Dana. This was the part of the book that reminded me most strongly of The Craft—it was the magic and the tenuous comradeship between Dana and her friends—while also being a completely different story altogether in the end. Some bonds were stronger than others, but even well-worn friendships could change. They either grew or shrank as intentions became clear. Dana’s part of the story was heart-wrenching—marked by difficult choices and loss—and it also really demonstrated the danger of messing with things you don’t know.

Our Crooked Hearts is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year.

 
About the author....
Melissa Albert is the New York Times and indie bestselling author of the Hazel Wood series and Our Crooked Hearts, and a former bookseller and founder of the Barnes & Noble Teen Blog. Her work has been translated into more than twenty languages and included in the New York Times’ list of Notable Children’s Books. She enjoys swimming pool tourism, genre mashups, and living in Brooklyn with her hilarious husband and magnificently goofy son.
Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Flatiron Books) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, thank you! 

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