I was gifted a copy of the book by Nina Douglas and Penguin in exchange for an honest review
SECRETS. LIES. SUPER-BAD CHOICES. WITCHCRAFT. This is Our Crooked Hearts – a gripping mystery crossed with a pitch-dark fantasy from Melissa Albert, global bestselling author of The Hazel Wood.
In our family, we keep our magic close, but our secrets closer . . .
Ivy’s summer kicks off with a series of disturbing events. As unnatural offerings appear on her doorstep, she’s haunted by fragmented memories from her childhood, suggesting there’s more to her mother, Dana, than meets the eye.
Dana’s tale starts the year she turns sixteen, when she embarks on a major fling with the supernatural. Too late she realizes that the powers she’s playing with are also playing with her.
Years after it began, Ivy and Dana’s shared story will come down to a reckoning between a mother, a daughter and the dark forces they never should have messed with.
I’m just going to come right out and say it – I loved Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert. I thought I would, as I loved The Hazel Wood, but even so, I was surprised at just how much I loved it. It was proper creepy and gripping, and I loved the two timelines and Ivy and Dana and really just everything. It’s brilliant. There’s a quote from V E Schwab on the front of the proof I have, which says “Every line reads like an incantation” and it’s the best summing up of the book. The writing in Our Crooked Hearts is fantastic. It grabs you from the start and completely pulls you into the story.
It’s hard to say too much without spoiling it, and I do think you’re better off going into the book knowing as little as possible. As I said above, there are two timelines – the present day with Ivy, and twenty years ago with Dana, Ivy’s mother. There are a lot of secrets between the two of them, which we slowly discover throughout the book from both points of view, and I thought the reveals were done really well. They were surprising, but there was always a logic to them and they didn’t just come out of nowhere. Both Ivy and Dana are really interesting characters and I particularly loved seeing the difference between teenage Dana and the adult Dana shaped by those experiences. Their relationship was a key theme of the book and the way the reasons for their distance from each other became clearer was something else that was done really well.
I liked that the two timelines were also two very distinct worlds. Really, the only thing they had in common was Dana and her best friend Fee. Ivy clearly has no idea of her mum’s life before marriage and her upbringing couldn’t be more different, and I really liked the contrast between the two. Both timelines were brilliantly realised too – although Our Crooked Hearts is set in the real world, there’s still a sense of worldbuilding in the setting, if that makes any sense at all!
I think it’s also worth pointing out that when the blurb says it’s a pitch-dark fantasy, it isn’t messing about. Our Crooked Hearts is definitely not a light and fluffy read. The witchcraft is dark and has terrible consequences, and there is damage here. How much damage isn’t really clear until a certain revelation towards the end of the book, but all the characters are carrying damage of some sort with them. It may be YA, but it’s definitely aimed at the older part of that demographic.
There seem to be a lot of witchy books around at the moment, but this is one of the best I’ve read. It’s such an atmospheric read, with beautiful writing and fascinating characters. I really, truly loved it!
Our Crooked Hearts is out now from Penguin