Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Review: When My Heart Was Wicked by Tricia Stirling

When My Heart Was Wicked by Tricia Stirling
Release date: February 24th, 2015
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Source: eARC provided by Edelweiss
Goodreads link: (click here)

What's it about?

After the death of her father, sixteen-year-old Lacy Fin is left heartbroken. She's currently living with her kind and sweet step-mother, Anna, because her birth mother abandoned her a few years ago. Over the years, Lacy has made a life for herself and she's finally in a comfortable place. She's got solid friendships and has accepted Anna after initially hating her at first because she didn't want to replace her mother. Every day since her father has been gone has been a struggle, though. Lacy feels like the world has lost it's magic. When she's finally able to pull herself out out her grief long enough to go back to school and start living her life again, everything changes. Out of the blue, Lacy's mother, Cheyenne, returns from a stint in jail to reclaim her. 

When Lacy was younger, she wanted nothing more than to be with her mother. She was devastated when Cheyenne left and never came back. Even after that happened, she put her on a pedestal and fought against the good life her father and Anna were giving her. There was a time when Lacy was a very different person. She was once bitter and full of hate and she eventually came to understand that Cheyenne may have been responsible for it. Her mother wasn't such a great person after all. Lacy also remembers that Cheyenne used to use black magic, and even tried to pull her into it's dark spell. Now, Lacy is a good girl and she uses good magic. She loves botany and uses the magic of plants, combined with science, to harness their healing powers. She embraced all that was good and light. She eventually grew to love Anna and found a place to belong with a loving family. The more Lacy remembers about Cheyenne and her darkness, the more she grows to fear her. Lacy is terrified that being around her will turn her back into the evil girl she used to be, but she has no choice but to move away from everything and everyone she knows and loves in Chico to move to Sacramento with her mother. 

In a new town, Lacy is faced with trying to fit into a new school while getting to know her mother all over again. She's got no friends and the people here don't seem very open and accepting. She'll face bullies and betrayal, and it will be even harder to keep herself from using black magic to get revenge on the people she encounters. She's also sure that Cheyenne is doing something to her that's making her lose her mind. Lacy will have to fight the darkness inside of her and around her if she ever wants to see the light again.

My Thoughts

Wow, I didn't know what to expect from this book, but what I got was a dark tale of magic and self-discovery. The shining star of this book is the beautifully poetic writing that is reminiscent of Francesca Lia Block's magical prose. Tricia Stirling weaves a spellbinding tale using magical realism, so yes, if you are fan of Francesca Lia Block (as I am), you absolutely must read this. How would I describe this book? Well, if the movie The Craft were reimagined into a contemporary, Grimm's fairy tale, you might get something like When My Heart Was Wicked. This book was short, but it packed quite an emotional punch. While it was dark and had paranormal elements, it also dealt with real life issues that an ordinary teen might face. Grief, abandonment, abuse, friendship, bullying and attempted sexual assault are all dealt with in this book. I would recommend this for older teens because of some of the subject matter. All in all, I was captivated by this story of heartbreak, hope, magic and redemption. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. Tricia Stirling is an author to watch, this was a gorgeous and impressive debut. Some people just really know how to put words together to make magic and she's one of them.

<3 Michelle