R E V I E W : : Our Crooked Hearts

Our Crooked Hearts
Melisa Albert
Flatiron Books
Publication Date: June 28, 2022

Thanks to Flatiron Books for sending me an advanced reading copy of OUR CROOKED HEARTS by Melissa Albert (on sale now). The early reviews mentioned rabbit sacrifice, and so though I loved the cover and was intrigued by the copy, I did not have the stomach to read it. (I had every intention to! My picture was taken as soon as I received a copy!)

When it was announced as the October #totallyteenbuddyread selection, I decided I’d set aside my concerns to participate. Ivy, the teenage protagonist, has just broken up with her boyfriend at a party. On the way home, they almost run over a naked woman who is in the middle of the road. Stranger things ensue: dead rabbits appear around her family’s property, her mother buries jar containing a strange concoction Ivy is sure is made from blood, her mother goes MIA, and she starts having flashes of new memories.

In an earlier timeline, Ivy’s mother Dana and Dana’s best friend Fee, meet Marion who introduces them to witchcraft. Marion uses the spell book of a witch who was killed decades earlier and who might not be the best mentor.

I liked much about the book. Although I preferred the present-day timeline, I did think having Dana and Ivy’s perspective was helpful. Of all the characters, only Ivy had a mother who was present in her life (at least most of the time)—all the others had deceased or missing mothers. How mothers affect children either by their absence or by their mistakes is an interesting part of the book. It’s also set in Chicago, which I think I’ve mentioned before is one of my favorite settings since it’s where I went to college.

One spell cast by a coven required a rabbit sacrifice, and that scene was repeated. I skipped pages until I was sure I was past the violence. I did not like this at all, but I suppose I could tolerate it being in the story since… witches. As for the presence of multiple dead rabbits serving as warnings, I don’t think they were necessary to the story though obviously the author would disagree.

We had a great discussion about the book, so I’m glad I read it for that reason, and if it hadn’t had so many dead rabbits, I probably would have unequivocally liked the book. More and more, I’m heeding content warnings that mention animal cruelty or death. I will go to the “Does the Dog Die?” website if I know there is a canine or kitty character. I have had this stance a lot longer for movies, and it irritates my husband because “it’s just a movie,” but I’ve ruined too many sobbing for him not to go along with it!

Are there any topics that eliminate a book from your consideration?