Friday, March 6, 2015

When My Heart was Wicked by Tricia Stirling {review}

When My Heart Was Wicked
by Tricia Stirling
♦publisher: Scholastic Press
♦release date: February 24th, 2015
♦hardcover, 192 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦source: from publisher for honest review
"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: While When My Heart was Wicked was an interesting read and a very short one at that, I found I kind of struggled through it, begrudgingly picking it up each time.  I wasn’t easily drawn into the plight of the main character, Lacy, and couldn’t get into the writing style, turned off both by the use of first-person present tense which left me feeling a bit removed from everything going on, and by the addition of random offensive material that I wasn’t sure why it was in the story at all (i.e. Lacy talks about how one of her teachers racially slurs a classmate on a daily basis and everyone seems to think that’s alright because the teacher is, in general, “a douche”). Still, at times the writing is intense and takes us along for Lacy’s struggle to control the mean spirit that her mother brings out in her, her grief for her father and her old life, and her love/hate relationship with the unpredictable mother who abandoned her and has now resurfaced.  There were times I felt for Lacy and other times I just felt letting herself go down a dark road, using her mother as an excuse to become that person again.  I did like that she was smart and that she was very close to her stepmom who taught her natural magick. She seemed to love practicing light magic, but also seemed to have a pretty flimsy grasp on that desire when it was challenged.

I appreciated the parallels that the author created between Lacy and Holden Caulfield while she's reading Catcher in the Rye. I could completely see how Lacy would see herself in that character. I also liked the friendships she made while at her new school, though at times the guy, Martin, seemed more like a 12-year-old than 16 or 17.  

I did like how through most of the story, it’s never actually clear if the magic that Lacy believes in is real of just her own feelings of power (or lack thereof) over her own life. I was really enjoying that as a theme, then suddenly the story takes a bizarre twist and the magic becomes very literal---it was kind of jarring and, for me, took away from the impact and emotion of seeing Lacy realize that she can decide for herself if she wants to be good or evil.

I can’t pinpoint if this book just wasn’t what I was expecting, or not what I was in the mood for---either way, the story as a whole just didn’t work for me.
Find Tricia Stirling online:  Website  •  Twitter   •  Facebook

Purchase the book:  Indiebound  •  BookDepository  •  Amazon


  1. I'm sorry you didn't like this much, Becky! It does sound interesting--and that cover is gorgeous--but witch books are hard for me to begin with. I love magic that's done differently, though, and it turning literal probably would be a big turnoff. At least it was short? :)

  2. I'm surprised you didn't really enjoy this one Becky. Especially when lately most of the books you've read receive a 3 or more rating from you. This is probably the first time I see a 2 1/2...I'm also surprised you didn't enjoy the story so much when others bloggers seem to stand in the middle or love this book. I'm not sure if I should give this one a chance anymore, but if I do I'll definitely be keeping the points you made in mind.

  3. Aw, I'm so sorry this book was disappointing for you Becky. But I also very much understand :) I don't think this book would be for me either. Sigh. Though the cover is all kinds of gorgeous :) Thank you for sharing sweetie. <3

  4. Too bad you didn't really like this book, the synopses sounded really interesting. This kind of writing style can be strange, but I've read a few books like that and found that after a while it didn't bother me anymore. Also the whole issue with the main character struggling between light and dark kinda reminded me of Lena in Beautiful Creatures, is it anything like it?

  5. This sounds like it would be an interesting read, but this is the first review I happen to come across for it! Sorry you didn't enjoy it!

  6. Dang, I'm sorry this one didn't work for you, but thanks for the review, Becky!

  7. It's too bad that it didn't quite work out. The random offensive material sounds a bit bizarre....thanks for your honest thoughts!

  8. I like your points you have made. I feel the same way about this thought I was getting something more magical instead of a more mother daughter relationship type book. I mean the magic was there esp at the end but I think if is wasn't so short I would have DNF or skipped to the end just to see what happened.

  9. Oh, that's disappointing! I just saw this book for the first time and I was like, wow, great cover and the blurb sounds interesting! But it's always disappointing when the writing and the characters will a bit disjointed. And it would be great if the book was a bit longer, I guess. 192 pages is way too short.