“There’s magic born out of pure will, voiceless. No, not pure: will muddied and thickened with grief and terror, and love in all its forms.”
The suburbs, right now . . .
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 burning question: What if 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.
Thank you to Ms. Cat Kenney at Flatiron Books for the eArc copy of this book! Receiving it did in no way affect my review.
Hello again dear reader or listener, I hope summer has been treating you well so far, aside from gestures vaguely at things happening in the world. For my part I have been feeling witchy so this promising piece of YA that I requested a while back was just what I needed.
Our Crooked Hearts is a double tale of mother and daughter coming into magic and its consequences, when they were each 16-17 years old. The mother’s half of the story is told in flashbacks so as to create parallelisms with her daughter’s present storyline, cleverly woven in such a way that what happened in the past is slowly revealed to optimally fit and complement what is happening in the present. Albert truly entwined her two plots brilliantly, filling in the blanks in the right moments or leaving them empty for even greater effect in select instances. I found this worked really well with the building up of both anticipation and dread as the whole tone of this novel is of something eventually going severely wrong, and the reader can’t help but hold their breath waiting for the other shoe to drop. When it does finally happen though you are rewarded with a satisfyingly wrapped conclusion that gives you the feeling of seeing the faraway light of dawn slowly break the darkness.
Albert’s prose is also absolutely beautiful yet simple, coming up with metaphors that I found to be exceedingly unique and sometimes weirdly specific but rendering the idea she wanted to send across so perfectly, that I often did a double take of ‘how this is so right?’. Using turns of phrase you’d never think of and yet creating the most crystal-clear image in your mind’s eye. In fact, while I tend to be more of a character driven reader, and this novel does have some very fascinating and nuanced character work as well, in this instance, I think that prose and ambiance was what shone the most for me. It made a relatively simple plot more memorable and the events and action flow uninhibited.
As for the characters there’s lots that you could focus on but I’m going for spoiler-free, so I’ll say this. Albert created some really flawed and lonely characters who in their almost desperate hope to find out who they are, and who are looking for a connection of some kind – be it between mother and daughter, or between friends – go to extreme lengths. Misguided actions, guilt, hope for something better, accepting that sometimes relationships can be maintained even when there’s walls between you and that you need to slowly work together to dismantle, if not completely, at least lowering their height a little. These are all themes in this book, as well as the importance of memories and our life experiences making us who we are.
At the same time however, I also can’t say that I was rushing to get to the end of this story either and I could’ve taken my leisurely time getting through it. To put it another way, this novel was overall lovely and with the upsides that I mentioned, but it is also the kind of book where, if you tell me you are specifically looking for certain elements that I know are in it, I’ll tell you, hey you can read this, but otherwise it’s not at the forefront of my mind.
So, dear reader or listener, if you are looking for a witchy book with no damsel in distress moments, with flawed characters who nonetheless persevere and try to do their best, while also fighting that feeling of disconnect from others, all rendered through beautiful prose and the occasional eerie moment, then this is the book for you.
Until next time,
Eleni A. E.
PS: I hope you’ll forgive my rambling sentences, this is the result of two days’ worth of nonstop headaches.