Cover Image: Our Crooked Hearts

Our Crooked Hearts

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Member Reviews

Our Crooked Hearts was an edge-of-your-seat YA thriller. With a dual timeline format, we learn about Ivy's mother in her youth and the adventures in witchcraft she undertakes with her two besties, and we also get the present-day teenage viewpoint of Ivy as she navigates the fallout from things that started before her time. The twists and turns were interesting and shocking. The mood of the story was eerie and dark. And, importantly, the teenage voice of Ivy was believable. I loved getting a glimpse into the past and knowing that something very bad was building to a climax. Highly recommend!
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Our crooked hearts was a suspenseful witchy mystery that had me needing to know more from the start. 

This book took me awhile to read only because I wasn't in the right mindset, and even then I still managed to keep at it. 

We follow 2 different timelines between mother and daughter (the mothers past and the daughters now). 

On there way home from a party, Ivy and her boyfriend almost run over this mysterious woman in the middle of the road. When Ivy goes to check on this strange woman she quickly discovers the woman knows her name. When things start getting weird after that, her mother Dana disappears. Ivy is left wondering what is going on and things only get stranger and much creepier. 

Thank you to net galley and flatiron books for the arc of this book in exchange for an honest review
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Our Crooked Hearts is supernatural thriller, that is perfect for someone who wants a quick read , some mystery and suspense. That being said, the this book really wasn’t for me , I found that something was missing. I would read more from this author, but this wasn’t the one for me.

I received an arc for my honest review.
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Rabbits in books freak me out.  I saw this cover and thought, "Oh, I need to read that."  I didn't know if it was horror or fantasy or what, but that cover had me right away.  I'm not a huge fan of YA, but I thought I'd give this a shot and I'm glad I did.  What a creepy book!  It's just a good time, honestly.  I love the spells, the characters, the mystery, and you know I'm always into books about witches.  You say "grimoire" and I'm into it.  I'm so glad this story lived up to the cover!
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Disclosure: This book was provided to me by Netgalley free of charge in return for an honest and unbiased review.

Oh Melissa Albert. You went and did it again, didn't you? To be honest, I didn't think that I was going to enjoy "Our Crooked Hearts" as much as I did. "The Hazelwood" was so twisted, so original, I thought that I would just be disappointed with OCH.

THE NITTY GRITTY, RIGHT NOW...

The story alternates between present day in the suburbs and the 90's in the city (Chicago), switching perspectives between 17-year-old Ivy and Ivy's mother, Dana, when she was 16. In the present, Ivy's summer vacation is not off to a great start. Following a party and an argument with her boyfriend, Nate, the pair encounter (polite way to say almost run over) a strange girl in the middle of nowhere. The girl is straight up creepy - Think Sadako from The Ring. And creepier still, the girl seems to know Ivy. Ivy and Nate get the heck outta Dodge - which is really the only sensible choice. Problem is, everything begins to unravel for Ivy from here on out. Her mother disappears, weird crap starts happening, she begins seeing the girl everywhere, and she starts to question her mother's true nature.

THE TREPIDATION, BACK THEN...

So here is where I became worried. Just from reading the jacket cover, you know that this book is about witches. And witches? They're OK. I don't dislike books with them, I just don't go out of my way to read books where they're the main focus. Which I realize is blasphemy, because I'm pretty sure it was mandatory for every teenage girl coming of age in the 90's to join a coven or, at the bare minimum, to own a Tarot deck, burn incense, and watch "The Craft" an annoying number of times. Honestly, I shouldn't have worried. It's Melissa Albert and I should have had a little faith.

THE CONCLUSION, RIGHT NOW...

That being said, I won't pretend that "Our Crooked Hearts" is super original. To be honest, taking plot and characters into consideration, it feels like it could be a sequel to "The Craft". But, please, don't let that scare you away! There is enough freshness (is that a word?) to keep you reading. Besides, Albert is a genius when it comes to world building and character creation. How she manages to breathe such life into her creation in a scant 341 pages I'll never know. I do know that "Our Crooked Hearts" has earned Albert a place in my list of authors whose books I will insta-buy. Oh, yes, and the 7-Eleven hot dog did not disappoint!
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Our Crooked Hearts was a quick read that intrigued me from the very beginning.  I felt like something was missing for me though. If you like Melissa Albert's other books, I would recommend giving this one a try.
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“There was a quiet place at the center of me. A pool of black water frozen to a sheen. It was made up of the questions it was easier not to ask, the mysteries I didn’t bother prodding. I’d been letting it thicken as far back as I could recall. Something was moving beneath the ice now. Shifting, making the surface creak, turning it rotten.”


WRITING STYLE
Melissa Albert weaves a very dark, magical story. First she coaxes you in with expert word play and lyrical descriptions worthy of a poet. Then, when you’re least expecting it, like the crafty wordsmith she is, you soon find yourself ensnared in her web and left incapable of escape. You’re her prisoner, her next meal, stuck until she chooses to release you.

“From up here I could see we were small, we were specks, we were cosmic dust off a god’s left shoulder, and the discovery filled me with an electric joy. The air was thin and the stars sang their elliptical starsong and didn’t care that I heard it.”

Our Crooked Hearts is told in dual (sometimes tri) POVs and dual timelines. Initially, the separate timelines and narrators felt too separate; I couldn’t tell the purpose of being told the two stories on their own. Why wouldn’t they be weaved together? There had to be a reason. There was a reason, but readers don’t get there until Part Two so stick with it.

“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.”

FEELS
Friends, I’m not going to lie to you. Our Crooked Hearts started exceptionally slow for me, and there was a point about 30% in that I considered DNF’ing. I’m really glad that I didn’t, though. I am impatient. I hope to be drawn in immediately with action or witty dialogue and banter, but not all novels are like that and that’s why I think it’s important to read from all genres. It was difficult at the beginning of the story for me to see where it was headed, but soon I felt the pull and couldn’t wait to see what happened next.


Melissa Albert expertly laid the foundation for the final acts, done in such a way that once you’ve finished you want to go back to the beginning to discover those clues you missed the first time around. 

FINAL THOUGHTS
Our Crooked Hearts is perfect for fans of Holly Black and V. E. Schwab. It is subtle, creepy, and gives off some sketchy vibes that will at times make you want to hide behind your hands and read through your fingers. The story takes some time to build up so be patient. I’ll be thinking about Ivy, Marion, Dana, and Fee for a long time to come. 

If you love fantasy, don’t miss Leah’s review of “A Mirror Mended”. Leah loved it and we think you will, too!
3.5
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Our Crooked Hearts was so wonderfully eerie! It pulled me straight in on the first page and I fell into the kind of haunting horror/fairytale world that only Melissa Albert can create. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but if you're a mood/seasonal reader like I am, this is the perfect book to read as we head into fall.
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So deliciously disturbing. Or maybe just disturbing. Either way, I loved it. Even if it gave me nightmares.
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Originally posted on Forever Young Adult's blog:

Cover Story: This Is About What?

I love the look of this book. It’s haunting, intriguing and eye catching – everything you want in a cover. Is it relevant to the story? Yes…but in a creepy way you only figure out after you read the book. What’s behind that door with the bunny knocker? WITCHES *squeeee*

The Deal:

This book is split into two different points and it is, for lack of a better word, magical!

THE SUBURBS, RIGHT NOW:

Ivy’s on a mission to figure out who the naked woman was in the street that knew her name, why everyone is leery of her mother, Dana, and what’s going on with all the recent dead rabbits. Oh, also why she can’t remember being friends with her neighbor, Billy, when she was younger. 

THE CITY, BACK THEN: 

Three teenage girls, angry with the way their lives have turned out, long for something more and OH BOY do they get it. Dana and longtime friend Fee meet Marion and their worlds are changed forever. When Marion hexes a boy (he so deserved it), it opens up an entirely new world for Dana and Fee, one they have skirted on for as long as they can remember.

BFF Charm: Best Witches

I will always be best friends with a witch. Good witch, bad witch, person who looks like a witch, person who considers themselves a witch…you understand. I sided more with Dana in the story (mom here!) but all of Ivy’s concerns and anger are valid. There are elements I admire in each character: Ivy’s determination, Marion’s ambition, Fee’s calmness, and Dana’s protective nature. The characters were perfectly imperfect. 

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

There’s not a lot of lovey-dovey stuff going on in this book, but there’s just enough that it makes your heart happy. Albert does a great job of integrating the supernatural into the love stories so it keeps you engaged. In the present, there’s a lovely neighbor romance trope between Billy and Ivy (even if it takes Ivy awhile to get there). In the past, we get a brief look into Dana and her husband’s relationship. All the interactions are very sweet and the scenes with Billy and Ivy give you all the butterflies! There’s just not a lot of them which is perfect. I’m all in for more magic and less kissy-kissy. 

Talky Talk: Holy Similes, Batman 

I was hooked as soon as I started this book. It reads like a movie (my fave) and it’s so intriguing and mysterious. I even suffered reading in a moving vehicle so I could find out what happened in the story! There are, however, similes GALORE and sometimes it got exhausting reading about how X was like Z. But it was all very dreamy and intoxicating. The ending, although poetic, felt hella rushed and I was left wanting more. Where’s my crazy magic battle and vengeance filled decisions?! Another book where I wouldn’t be mad if there was a sequel.

Bonus Factors: Witchy Stuff

I love that Albert pulled from so many places to give us magic in this world. From folklore to herbal medicine to our own bodies, she shows us that magic is all around us. The magic used felt so real and attainable for the characters. No fancy wands or chosen ones – just magically inclined women ready to harness their power and “bring shitheads to their knees”. After I watched The Craft (this book gives me major Craft vibes), I became obsessed with witches and spellcasting and this book has reignited that flame 100%. 

Relationship Status: Hex Me, Baby, One More Time

Right now, I have a digital copy of this book and you can bet your bottom dollar I will be purchasing the physical copy so I can stare at it and hold it and love it. Like I said, I love witches and who doesn’t need four strong badass magical women in their lives?

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Raincoast books. I received no money or magical training in exchange for this review. Our Crooked Hearts is out now.
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When I saw that Melissa Albert had another book coming out, I was super excited. And then when I heard it was supposed to be like The Craft?! Yeah I needed it in my hands expeditiously. And man, that description was spot-on.

This eerie book had one of my favorite things going for it: the non-linear timeline. Although this timeline wasn’t great, I know what it meant for this book. With it being such a huge part, it sucked that I didn’t like it as much. But it’s mainly because it was confusing. I found myself rewinding and re-listening to some parts because I was so confused. But after finishing it, I’m not sure if that’s what the author wanted, or if it was just actually confusing. (It could also be the fact that I was listening to this on 1.75 for the most part….) But other than the timeline, the rest of the writing style was great. I was hooked. Albert somehow told the right parts that made this story not only weird, but also creepy.

Now y’all know I’m usually not a fan of witches, but this one was really good. I think maybe because Albert wasn’t really holding back any punches. Like she didn’t make the witches have a wand and then say one word and that’s their spells. She actually made them scary and had their spells actually have a creepy factor in it. Definitely wasn’t what I was expecting from a YA book. And I think that was the best part. It wasn’t what I was expecting, so when I got it, it meant so much more.

I don’t really want to say any more than that for fear of spoilers, but if you like witchy happenings, gory and creepy, and the vibes from Riverdale and The Craft, then this is for you. Yes you’ll have to pay attention to the weird timeline and POVs, but the way you’ll be sucked in by the descriptions and awesome writing style, I think you’ll be fine. If you read it, let me know what you think!
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WOW...just, WOW. I haven't read a book that held me this much in a while.
A wonderfully creepy book, "The Craft" with shades of "Archive 81." Evocative prose that made me want to break out the highlighter and mark up my Kindle copy so I could remember it all.
It alternates between Ivy's and her mom, Dana's timelines; Ivy in the present, Dana back in the 1990s, when she was the same age Ivy is now. (Later on a third timeline is added briefly.) Ivy and her drunk, very-soon-to-be-ex-boy friend, Nate nearly run over a teenage girl in the middle of the road after coming home from a party. The sight of the eerily pale girl kicks off a series of disturbing events--decapitated rabbits just the beginning--during which Ivy realizes everyone knows more than what they're saying, especially about her often-distant mother. Memories coming back to Ivy that she never realized were missing. Dana's past and Ivy's present slowly knit together, creating an unsettling yet can't-look-away narrative. Like all horror stories, there's always that inkling of doubt about a truly happy ending, only that relationships are healing and happiness is found where one can, for now.
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What a great book. I didn't expect this book to keep me on my feet the whole time. I look forward to reading more from this author especially because fall will be here before we know it and I love the thrill.
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This is the first book I’ve read by Melissa Albert and it did not disappoint. If you love magic and witches this is the book for you. It is dark and haunting. I loved that this was a faster paced book. Well written with LGBTQ characters. Each chapter has a bit of a mini cliffhanger and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. I will definitely be looking into this authors other books. 
*thank you to NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Let me start by saying I love this book. I think Our Crooked hearts is beautifully crafted, a slowly built haunting that results in an impactful tale of motherhood, generational trauma and the dangers of magic. This is a book that worked so well for me, but one I’m not sure will work for everyone. It’s very slow, and full of questions that take a long time be answered. I like this, but I don’t think a lot of readers, especially the younger teens I work with, will love that. 

I think this is a book for women of all ages, because of its themes of motherhood and independence, and because of this, I think categorizing it as YA is limiting. It follows teenage Ivy, who is experiencing a series of strange and frightening events - naked girls in the middle of the road, dead rabbits, her mother disappearing. We also follow her mother, Dana, as a teen who is discovering her magic. The author creates a clear image of both settings, only making them confusing with intention and purpose. The mystery of it all at once intrigued me and confused me, and I found myself not wanting to stop reading. I thought the villain type character was great, at once annoying and sad, creepy and misunderstood. So yeah, I loved this, but not everyone will.

Overall, this is Melissa Albert’s best work. It feels like a story that was made with love and care. The emotions of it all, from the sweet romance to the angry sisterhood are all lovely. I hope other readers appreciate this magic too.
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I've seen rave reviews of this book, and I admit that is was very different from many other stories that I have read, which intrigued me and kept me turning the pages. That said, something fell a little short for me. I was compelled to learn Ivy's mother's back story and secret, and to see how the situation in the present would be resolved, but I had a hard time connecting to the characters. I couldn't sympathize with their emotions, though I could understand some of their actions. The closest I can to connection was when we learn about why Ivy's memories are muddled. I felt some sadness and sympathy for both characters in that moment. But as the story drew to a close, I almost felt that I lost that connection again. I still enjoyed the story, and I love dark, unusual tales, so I am planning to purchase the book for my library and will recommend it to my teens who love dark tales as well.
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Thank you @flatiron_books @netgalley for my review copy! 

📖Seventeen year old Ivy is in the car with her boyfriend when a strange girl appears in the middle of the road causing an accident. In the days following, when strange things begin to happen, Ivy can’t help but feel like the girl is behind it. 

💭It was pretty slow to start. I honestly wasn’t really invested until about the halfway point. I really liked the creepy, witchy vibes. This would be a good one to pick up in the fall if you’re looking for a bit of a spooky read, but nothing too scary. 

✍️How I rated other books by this author:
The Hazelwood- 3⭐️
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3.5/5 Stars 

On the way home from a party, 17 year old Ivy encounters a mysterious woman, naked in the road. In order to avoid hitting her, they swerve, causing a minor accident and the woman to dart into the woods. Ivy chases after her, only to discover that the woman knows her name, and is somehow linked to her mother and the many secrets she's hiding. 

This started out fairly slow, but eventually picked up the pace as the story continued. This is told in alternating timelines from the past, when Ivy's mother was a teenager discovering magic, and the present, when Ivy is trying to unravel her mother's secrets. I liked Ivy and Dana's complex mother-daughter relationship, although I definitely didn't agree with a lot of the choices Dana made... I think the mystery aspect of the book was fun, but it was pretty obvious what the outcome was going to be.
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This is the second Melissa Albert book I have read, and I will be anxiously awaiting the next, as well as working my way through previous works.  I am relatively new-ish to YA, and it's books like these that keep me coming back to the genre!
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I had SO much fun reading "Our Crooked Hearts." I am a huge fan of Melissa Albert's "Hazel Wood" material and I thoroughly enjoyed this story told in two converging timelines. It was a lovely look at the complicated and complex nature of mother-daughter relationships.
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