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Book Review: When My Heart Was Wicked (Tricia Stirling)

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Pages: 192

Release Date: 24th February 2015

Blurb (from Goodreads):

“I used to be one of those girls. The kind who loved to deliver bad news. When I colored my hair, I imagined it seeping into my scalp, black dye pooling into my veins.

But that was the old Lacy. Now, when I cast spells, they are always for good.”

16-year-old Lacy believes that magic and science can work side by side. She’s a botanist who knows how to harness the healing power of plants. So when her father dies, Lacy tries to stay with her step-mother in Chico, where her magic is good and healing. She fears the darkness that her real mother, Cheyenne, brings out, stripping away everything that is light and kind.

Yet Cheyenne never stays away for long. Beautiful, bewitching, unstable Cheyenne who will stop at nothing, not even black magic, to keep control of her daughter’s heart. She forces Lacy to accompany her to Sacramento, and before long, the “old” Lacy starts to resurface.

But when Lacy survives a traumatic encounter, she finds herself faced with a choice. Will she use her powers to exact revenge and spiral into the darkness forever? Or will she find the strength to embrace the light?

Review:

I won this in a competition over at Jim’s blog (Ya Yeah Yeah), so big thanks to him and agent Molly Ker Hawn for the copy!

I found this a little bit of an odd read, but I did enjoy it very much. I loved that it had a non-nuclear family at the centre of it: after her mother abandoned her and her father died, Lacy lvied with her step mother, Anna, who is not a wicked, fairy tale kind of step mother, but a sweet and loving one. I adored her and really felt bad that she had not rights to Lacy as a parent even though it was clear who was better for her.

Lacy was really relatable in the way that she felt flawed. She wasn’t the perfect protagonist by any stretch of the imagination, and sometimes I got angry when she did things I didn’t want her to, but it all made her very normal and human, and I really appreciate that in a character.

I thought her mother, Cheyenne, was superb as well. Horrible, of course, but a brilliant character. There’s something about a character like that – one that’s so unpredictable, one that’s sometimes horrible but you want to love her anyway – that I find really interesting, and I think it’s a real skill to write someone that you can both like and dislike that much.

The magic parts of the book did confuse me a little sometimes. I just felt like I needed more ‘rules’ around it to understand what was going on, but I got used to it as the book went on, and I really enjoyed some bits of magic that were dark and creepy.

This is a short read, but an intense and thought provoking one that I’d definitely recommend.

4

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