Review of Melissa Albert’s OUR CROOKED HEARTS

Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It kills me to write this review. (I feel like I’m trying to type with lead weights attached to every finger) I adore Ms. Albert; I hung on every word of the Hazel Wood series, forfeiting sleep and chores to finish chapters. When I needed to delay a trip to the store to pick up this book, I threw a tantrum that I’d need to wait ONE extra day to hold it. Her imagery defies description, and her imagination is beautifully wicked.

But I was bitterly disappointed in the unfulfilled promises of everything from the characters to the plot. Turning pages, hoping for a new depth or secret to arise, I found nothing more than obscured mirrors of The Craft (ironic as the movie received a mention). Stereotypes proliferated where I least wanted them, pushing me further and further away from engagement. And the anticipated tension failed to arrive. By the middle of the book, I’d unraveled the entire “mystery” and predicted the ending – with complete accuracy, unfortunately. Turning pages became a hunt for more of Ms. Albert’s luscious wordplay rather than a need to discover answers.

The Hazel Wood series turned the trope of fairy tales upside-down and inside-out, leaving you questioning everything you thought of favored stories. It was a complete revelation, and I wanted the same from the witch concept. I opened the book expecting a fresh suspense angle and familial cursing, knotted into a new nightmare. Instead, I found a repetition of the usual pathways writers have tread for decades – possibly centuries. And it broke my heart.

Unless that was her intent (unusual), I wish I had a way to lock the memories of the book away.

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