Summary (from Goodreads):
“Josephine Hemlock has spent the last 10 years hiding from the Curse that killed her mother. But when a mysterious man arrives at her ivy-covered, magic-fortified home, it’s clear her mother’s killer has finally come to destroy the rest of the Hemlock bloodline. Before Jo can even think about fighting back, she must figure out who she’s fighting in the first place. The more truth Jo uncovers, the deeper she falls into witchcraft darker than she ever imagined. Trapped and running out of time, she begins to wonder if the very Curse that killed her mother is the only way to save everyone she loves.”
Oh, you guys, this book.
I feel like in a lot of ways, witchcraft is becoming the latest trend in YA. We’re not seeing so many vampires or werewolves and now it’s all witches and magic and whatnot. But this book is a whole other thing. Witchcraft isn’t fun or easy—spells demand a price, and generally it’s something awful (like losing a fingernail. And you have to do it to yourself, which makes me cringe every time I think about it).
Natalie Whipple spends the first part of this book setting up the rules and parameters of this family and witchcraft and then the next part breaking them. Almost everything we initially think is true turns out to be a lie. That’s an interesting trick, but what’s an even better one is the fact that she makes it all make perfect sense in the context of the story. That’s impressive and probably nearly impossible to do.
I love Jo so much, and I love her Nana and friends, too. To Jo, her life is completely normal, even the fact that she can’t let anyone who isn’t her family into her life. That’s got to be almost impossible for a teenage girl, because you know how your friends become your family and usually even more important than said family. So Jo spends her life balancing a tightrope, trying to be a normal girl and at the same time, not being able to be more than, say, 75% typical. (And that’s at best.)
There are definitely creepy aspects to the book (primarily the Curse and the person doing the Cursing) but it’s the best kind of creepy: enough to send a chill down your spine but nowhere near enough to steal sleep.
Unless you’re unlucky enough to start this close to bedtime, because you won’t want to stop reading until you’ve finished.